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Why The Arachnid Population Explosion During Arizona’s Monsoon Season Attracts Thousands Of People To The State Every Year

Arachnids, like spiders and scorpions, are hard to come by in the concrete jungles of Arizona’s most urbanized locations. In fact, the downtown centers in cities like Phoenix and Tucson make even local residents forget that they are living within a desert that contains some of the world’s best known creepy-crawlies. It can be shocking to consider the millions of arachnids that are active just outside of these urban centers, but suburbanites in the state encounter these critters regularly. It is not uncommon for Arizona residents to hunt scorpions at night with the assistance of a black light that makes the creatures glow. However, during monsoon season, and for a few weeks afterward, tarantulas are sometimes spotted crawling into urban landscapes. They are spotted more frequently in suburban homes during this time of year as well. This is due to the arachnid population explosion that occurs during monsoon season, as the heavy rains and lingering moisture allow for vegetation and arthropod life in the Sonoran Desert region to thrive. Due to the seemingly sudden abundance of arachnid life that emerges in the Arizona desert during monsoon season, people from all over the world travel to the state in order to capture a few of their own specimens. The arachnids are captured for a variety of reasons, mostly for profit and research.

According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, monsoon season brings tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world to the state each year. Certain tarantula and scorpion species are the most common arthropods to be snatched up. These creatures are taken for research purposes, or to be placed within zoos. But the largest group of visitors may be the profiteers looking to sell tarantulas and other arthropods to pet stores located all over the world. During the annual “Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference” in Arizona, vendors can be seen selling a variety of arthropods to eager tourists. The most popular arthropods sold during the conference are tarantulas, black widows, scorpions, ant queens and vinegaroons. Every year, researchers discover at least one new arthropod species in the region, such as the recently described northern giant flag moth. Of course, not even these species are immune to the demand of the arthropod marketplace. For example, this recently discovered moth is now sold for around 700 dollars, and they can be even more expensive if a female specimen is included along with her eggs.

Would you enjoy searching the desert landscape for interesting or particular arthropods?

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