California Tarantula

Subject:  Spider
Location:  Westridge Park, California
August 26, 2017 12:13 pm
Running with my dog in Westridge Park and almost stepped on this big harry guy!
Signature:  Sharon

California Tarantula

Dear Sharon,
This is a Tarantula, and you are in California, making this a California Tarantula, an unofficial name for members of the genus
Aphonopelma, the only North American genus of Tarantulas known west of the Mississippi River.  See BugGuide for more on the genus, including this information on identification:  “The Aphonopelma of North American are poorly known. Although many species have been described few specimens can be properly identified either by using available keys or by wading through species descriptions. Most identifiable specimens belong to species found in Mexico or Central America that are easily recognized by unique color patterns, such as that of A. seemanni. Correct identification of specimens collected within the United States is often suspect since determinations must be based on the process of elimination using collection dates and locality data in combination with coloration, coxal setation, and metatarsal scopulation.”

Are they as dangerous as their reputation?  Could Finn or I get bit/stung and could it cause issues?  Thanks What’s That Bug for 15 years of awesome knowledge and assistance:)

Tarantulas are reluctant to bite, but should one decide to bite, it might be painful and might produce a local reaction.  The venom is not considered dangerous, however, Tarantulas do have urticating hairs that could cause an irritation.  According to Amateur Entomologists’ Society:  “Urticating hairs are possessed by some arachnids (specifically tarantulas) and insects (most notably larvae of some butterflies and moths). The hairs have barbs which cause the hair to work its way into the skin of a vertebrate. They are therefore an effective defence against predation by mammals.”  These hairs are much more likely to cause problems than a bite, and a nose-full of urticating hairs would not be a pleasant experience for Finn and it might require a trip to the vet.

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