As far as things that may haunt our dreams, tarantulas are likely near the top of the list for most people. Because of their size, “hairiness,” large fangs, and creepy way of walking, the general consensus is that tarantulas are to be feared. But the reality is that tarantulas are actually shy creatures that would rather hide in their hole than to attack a human being.
Now don’t get me wrong, they are able predators, and are known to take down small lizards when hunting and they do use their fangs to inject venom into their prey, but the bite is no more painful than a bee sting to us, and the venom is only dangerous to people with specific susceptibilities to it. Certainly, without knowing, none of us would willingly be bitten by a tarantula, but their reputation is far beyond the reality of the animal.
The desert tarantula (Amphonopelma iodius) is common in many parts of the southwest United States, including Nevada, Utah, California, and Arizona. In the Sonoran Desert, desert tarantulas can reach lengths of 3 to 4 inches (70-100 mm), with females being stockier than males. The spider seen in today's photo is undoubtedly a male out on his epic quest to find a female with whom to mate. In the fall males leave their holes and strike out in search of females. Along the way they may fall prey to tarantula hawks, foxes, or coyotes, among other predators. But surviving those dangers isn't the end, because it's just as likely that the male will be eaten by the female.
Today’s photo was taken on an unpaved road on the way to Yant Flat in the mountains overlooking Saint George, Utah.
This photo was made with a Canon 85 mm f/1.2L lens mounted on a Canon 5D Mk. III. The exposure was set to 1/90 sec at f/13 and ISO 200.