Desert Tarantula

Did you know that Gabbs, Nevada is home of the largest tarantula migration?

Here in northern Nevada we have the Desert Tarantula, not often do we see them, and we hope that if you do see one you will leave it be. If by unfortunate chance one has found its way into your home and you can muster up the courage to capture it and set it outside, we would be very happy. BUT if you’re afraid of spiders we totally understand, particularly when one comes along in such a large size, so please call us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control and we will be happy to come remove it from your home.

Here in the Truckee Meadows Pest Control office we have one on display, his name is Harry Potter and his story is bitter sweet. Harry Potter was captured in a residence in Sparks Nevada, he had found his way into the residence and the property owner was kind enough to call to have him removed. A technician arrived at the residence and found him in the home where the owner had put a bowl over him with a couple of unnecessary large rocks to hold the bowl in place. Once the technician removed the bowl, Harry Potter was gathered up with care and placed in a container and brought back to the office. Everyone found him fascinating and just thought he was such a sweet tarantula, unfortunately since he was male we knew the life he had left would be brief. We decided to keep him, placing him in our large critter keeper, we took good care of him until he passed. Our decision to keep him was for the fact that it was late in the season, if we had set him free he would have either died from exhaustion or the cold, even if per chance he did find a mate on his march to procreate he would have been eaten anyway by the female. We had also decided at that time he would be a great specimen for educational purposes and at the end of his life we would proudly display him along beside the other native insects we have here in the office.

During this time of year, usually September through October male tarantulas are on the move in search of a female, they have been known to travel up to 50 miles in search of a mate. The females just hang out in their burrows and if a suitor appears, she will investigate and decide if he is her soulmate or not and if it isn’t she will kill him and eat him. Then again, she will kill and eat the successful one as well, unless he is able to escape her. Males have been known to live up to ten to twelve years, however on average they only live six to eight years. Females on the other hand can live more than twenty years and will produce 500 to 1000 young at each mating.

Desert tarantulas are beneficial, they feed mostly on other insects, mostly crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles. They can eat lizards, mice and other spiders. They have large fangs but a weak venom, they are docile and would rather flee than bite but if one where to bite it is no worse than a bee sting and poses no serious concern unless the bite becomes infected or the victim shows signs of an allergic reaction. Desert Tarantulas like most tarantula species have another self-defense mechanism they prefer to use when cornered or molested. Tarantulas have urticating hairs (setae) on their upper abdomens, these hairs have little barbs. When the tarantula rubs its legs on these hairs it will flick the hairs in the direction of any animal that is bothering it, including humans. These hairs act as an irritant, they can become embedded and can cause temporary blindness to their predators and a physical irritation that is of much discomfort, these hairs are an irritant even to humans. It is unlikely you would experience a tarantula doing that to you unless per chance you were not in your right mind, (for whatever reason) and decided the tarantula would be fun to play with or agitate.  The desert tarantula is just another misunderstood creature in our environment. Despite its scary appearance and our popular culture demonizing them, this fascinating arachnid is docile, reclusive and mostly harmless.

In the fall male tarantulas will be on the march to breed and so too will be the males of other spider species. In the fall is when most of us see an influx of spiders, both inside and outside. If you are having an influx of spiders we can help, just call us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604, control is what it’s all about.

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