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Insects are Amazing: The Desert Tarantula

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Desert Tarantula

"Yes, I know Spiders are not insects, but for SEO purposes they will be in this blog post"

The Desert tarantula is a fascinating species of tarantula found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. These spiders are known for their unique physical characteristics and fascinating behaviors for survival.

Desert tarantulas are relatively large spiders, with females growing up to 3 inches in length and males slightly smaller. The Desert Tarantula has a lifespan of 10 to 20 years with females living the longest. The spiders live in burrows to avoid the hot desert sun and are nocturnal hunters.

Another desert survival feature is they can survive without water for months and up to 2 years without food. In spring they tend to feast when food is plentiful and store the liquified guts in their abdomen in the caeca, an elaborate system of sacs and pouches throughout the body that can hold food before it's digested and turned into energy. If food is readily available the spider can molt once a year but young tarantulas can grow relatively rapidly, and therefore have to molt often. Young tarantulas can molt up to once a month. The frequency with which tarantulas molt diminishes as they mature. Adult tarantulas will only molt about once every year to two years.

Desert Tarantula

They have a dark brown or black body, covered with tiny hairs that help them sense vibrations in their environment to help avoid predators or locate prey. These spiders also have two powerful fangs that they use to catch and kill their prey., which includes insects, small rodents, and lizards. These spiders are also known for their defensive behavior when threatened, which includes rearing up on their hind legs and displaying their fangs.

The Desert tarantula would rather flee than fight, it rarely uses its fangs for anything except catching prey. Its primary line of defense is hairs on the top of the abdomen that is specialized just for defense. These urticating hairs, as they are called, are tipped with backward-pointing barbs. If a tarantula is threatened in any way, it brushes these hairs into the face, paw, or another body part of its attacker. These hairs can be very irritating and will buy enough time for them to get away.

Tarantula Hawk

Predators of tarantulas include lizards, snakes, spider-eating birds, coyotes, and foxes, but there is one predator that can get by all the Tarantula's defenses and that is the Tarantula Hawk. The Tarantula Hawk doesn't just kill the Tarantula it uses it in a unique way. Read More about this use.

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