SIZE: The largest spider found in the United States and around the world. In this country, the body may measure up to 2 ½ inches in length with a leg span of up to four inches.
COLOR: In the United States, tarantulas are varying shades of brown, from medium to dark. The spiders are very hairy.
BEHAVIOR: Tarantulas are passive hunters in that they wait near their burrows for insects and other spiders to walk past, then ambush their prey. They live in burrows in the soil and beneath items in contact with the ground, such as stones or logs. It is common in the desert Southwest to discover a tarantula burrowed beneath a landscape timber or a flagstone in landscaped beds around homes. They rarely venture far from this burrow, coming out only at night to feed. During the late summer and fall, however, male tarantulas will wander great distances in search of females with which to mate. Occasionally, one of these males will wander into a garage or a home.
The approximately 45 species of tarantulas in the United States are found in the south central and southwest areas of the country. Their range begins in Western Arkansas and extends north into Oklahoma and west to California.
Despite their large size, tarantulas are not dangerous and are typically slow-moving. When discovered, they can be coaxed to crawl into a can or box using a brush, broom or stick to tap them on the abdomen and guide them. Once captured, they should be released into areas away from homes.