Mrs. Desert Tarantula

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.

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