The Hidden Areas Within And Around Homes Where Tarantulas Most Frequently Build Nests
The Aphonopelma genus is composed of nearly all tarantula species in the US, and despite their menacing appearance and relatively large size, which averages 6 inches in leg span, these tarantulas are harmless to humans, and have never been known to inflict medically harmful bites. Around 90 Aphonopelma species have been documented, which accounts for 10 percent of all known tarantula species worldwide. Aphonopelma tarantulas are largely uniform in appearance, making it difficult for entomologists to make taxonomic distinctions between captured specimens.
In addition to inflicting venomous bites, Aphonopelma tarantulas defend themselves by flicking urticating abdominal hairs at their enemies, and if they are properly motivated, they will also flick these hairs toward a person’s face, resulting in pronounced irritation. It is not uncommon for people to suffer serious ocular injury after being struck in the eyes by urticating hairs. Many medical case reports describe incidents in which urticating hairs from New World tarantulas had penetrated the exterior surface of people’s eyes, resulting in inflammation, vision loss, and in rare cases, blindness.
Arizona is home to at least 30 documented Aphonopelma tarantula species that dwell in ground burrows during the day before emerging at night to forage. The small holes in the ground that lead to tarantula burrows are spotted frequently, but tarantulas are not usually seen until the mid to late summer mating season, which sees male tarantulas travel long distances, often in herds, to locate burrowing females. In response to the flooding of their burrows during monsoon season, tarantulas are commonly spotted after bouts of rainfall. During the summer in Arizona, tarantulas are often spotted indoors and on residential lawns, sometimes in large enough numbers to make them a nuisance to homeowners. In fact, tarantulas are known to establish nesting sites in homes, especially homes located on the outskirts of urban centers where the landscape is more conducive to tarantula habitats.
Indoor tarantula nests are usually surrounded by silk webbing that is matted to a surface located in dark areas, such as the corners of storage rooms, closets, attics, cupboards, garages, and crawl spaces. Nests are also frequently established beneath furniture and even within utility boxes. Nests are more likely to be found outdoors, especially in patio corners where they are obscured by potted plants or other objects. Tarantulas are often found in boxes, around shrubs, stones and landscaping ornaments. When nests and egg sacs are found, pest control professionals can use dry powders, wettable powders, glue-based spider traps, or chemical sprays to eliminate the pests. Tarantulas may invade homes and yards repeatedly if there is a large number of their insect prey present, in which case, porch lights should be turned off for a period of time to prevent insects from gravitating onto properties, and it may be necessary to have an insect pest inspection carried out on the property.
Have you ever found multiple tarantulas within your home?