Still Just A Kid
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The other day I was over at Sabino Canyon and was poking around in the brush in the riparian area near Sabino Dam. I saw something sitting in the dirt, looked closely, and spotted a large spider. At first I thought it was a Wolf Spider, a common and very large spider that one finds fairly often this time of year. But, it was much too large to be a Wolf Spider and it just didn’t look right. On closer examination I realized that it was a very small tarantula.
Adult tarantulas can reach a size of five or six inches in diameter (including their legs) and this spider was much smaller than that, barely two inches across. It was apparently a juvenile tarantula, a miniature version of the adult spider.
This youngster had led a fairly rough life so far, because it was missing a leg on the left side of its body. But, in other respects, it appeared to be healthy. I photographed it and let it be.
A day or to later I had the opportunity to speak with one of the keepers of the invertebrate collection at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. He told me that, whereas adult tarantulas are burrow dwellers, the juveniles tend to roam free for the first couple years of their lives. Quite commonly, they live under debris such as fallen leaves and brush and rarely, if ever venture out in the open. Seeing one out in the open as was the case with this one is quite an unusual event. He also told me that the study of tarantulas is not very far advanced. Tarantula behavior is simply not something that is well known. Thus, one may speculate why this individual was out and about but no one can say why with certainty.
July and August are the season in Tucson for adult male tarantulas to roam at night, looking for mates. In the days and weeks to come I’ll try to get a photograph of one of the males and post it. These giants really are a sight to behold!
Photos taken with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 125, f13 @ 1/160.