Currently viewing the category: "Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Unknown large spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Western Sierra Nevada foothills
Date: 09/30/2017
Time: 03:06 PM EDT
Could you tell me what this spider is?
How you want your letter signed:  Jesse


Dear Jesse,
This Tarantula might be
Aphonopelma eutylenum, a species found in California and represented on BugGuide.  This Reddit image is described as a “California Ebony Tarantula (Aphonopelma eutylenum).”


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What’s That Bug? turns fifteen today!!!
Dear faithful readers,
What’s That Bug? has several dates that we acknowledge.  We started as a column in the zine American Homebody in May 1998, and when the now defunct website American Homebody went live in 2001, we had our first presence on the internet.  See the history of American Homebody on Lisa Anne Auerbach’s site. We existed in that format for a year, and then on August 25, 2002, we registered the domain, and this was our first posting as a unique website.  There was no image with that submission, and we found an image from the internet to use.  That launch date for our site predates the popularity of cellular telephones with the ability to take images.  Early submissions to our site required actual digital cameras to provide images.  Through the years, our mission has always been to educate people to appreciate and tolerate the lower beasts.  Interestingly, Longhorn Beetles, the category of that first posting, is still the most populated category on our site with 1012 postings as of right now.  Here is a gorgeous image of a Banded Alder Borer from our archives.

Banded Alder Borer (from our archives)

Congratulations dear Daniel!  Your site is so fascinating and you have maintained it faithfully and you have followers all over the world.  Thank you for keeping us intrigued.

WTB is a great resource for me, particularly as it’s imbued with Daniel’s humor, as well as his knowledge.
Particularly fun is the Bug Love section 😀
Daniel’s beautiful book, “The Curious World of Bugs”,
( Ours is signed to Jessica with the admonition: “Do good work on the dark continent; and Don’t let the Creechies bite”)
should be on everyone’s shelf, as far as I’m concerned!

Congratulations on keeping us up to date for so long on bugs far and wide, Daniel!
Here is a photo of Ariadne, who will be 32 next month.
Sending her kind regards with mine!

Ariadne the Tarantula

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Tarantula gender (?)
Location: Southern AZ (Santa Cruz county)
August 21, 2017 8:36 am
Is there an easy way to determine the gender of our local tarantula without disturbing it? (photo attached)
Signature: Len Nowak (SALERO RANCH)

Male Tarantula, we believe

Dear Len,
This looks to us to be a male Tarantula, and it looks remarkably like this Tarantula from Nevada we posted recently.  We believe your Tarantula is a male for the following reasons.  It has large pedipalps.  The abdomen is small and the legs are long.  Male Tarantulas tend to wander in search of a mate.  Female Tarantulas are more sedentary, living in the same burrow for up to 25 years.  We have not read that.  We just believe it.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: looks like a spider
Location: Henderson, NV
August 16, 2017 11:15 am
Good morning!
I spotted this spider on my street Monday night. I have no idea what it is.
Please let me know if it is a tarantula or some other species.
Signature: Michelle


Dear Michelle,
Wow, that is a handsome male Tarantula.  We cannot locate an image on BugGuide of a Tarantula in the genus Aphonopelma with an abdomen as light as that in your individual, but we don’t even know if that is diagnostic.  Perhaps one of our readers can help with a species.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Spider or Beetle??
Location: Raleigh, NC
July 8, 2017 9:55 pm
Seen in a backyard in Raleigh, NC. on July 8th, 2017. Is it a spider or beetle?
Signature: Doesn’t matter

Trapdoor Spider

This is a harmless, male Trapdoor Spider in the genus Ummidia, which you can verify by comparing your image to this BugGuide image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination