My idea of the tarantula is large and furry, a spider of the night. Yesterday, hiking along the National Trail in South Mountain Park here in Phoenix I saw a spider, furry all right but small, two inches in length and it was daylight. Hours before sunset.
Said spider was on the left of the trail in the shadows, but I picked up movement. My first thought: tarantula. Thought No. 2: It’s too small. I tried to shoot close-ups with the Canon but they were so bad I would only show them to someone doing acid. Eventually said spider got off the trail, moseyed upward so camouflaged in the rock I had a hard time finding it. For data fiends like me, the sighting took place about 2:55 p.m. at an elevation of 2,200 feet, the temperature in the low 70s.
Later that night, I pulled out my National Audubon Society “Field Guide to Insects and Spiders,” and there it was on Plate 647. A Desert tarantula. And in all likelihood because of its comparatively large size, a female, a Mrs. Spider. Alphnopelma chalcodes. They run in size out here in the desert to 2-2 1/2 inches and females a 1/4 of inch longer. Its found in Arizona, New Mexico and southern California.
It was far from awesome and said to be a common sight here in the Sonoran Desert. But the Mrs. was my first sighting ever of a tarantula in the wild.