Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Colorado tarantula

Did you know that Colorado has its own species of tarantula? CNHP ecologist Renée Rondeau took these photos of our endemic tarantula, Aphonopelma coloradanum, in Pueblo County last fall.

Aphonopelma coloradanum
Now, now, he's just as scared of you as you are of him.

These large furry spiders may be seen in the southeastern corner of the state, as far north as Colorado Springs, especially during the mating season from late August through November. Most tarantulas out and about are mature males, looking for mature females.

Aphonopelma coloradanum
Gee, Renée, what's that moving around in your backpack?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe I saw one of these in Chatfield State Park just south of Denver a couple of weeks ago. Is it possible for a Trantula to live that far north?

Colorado Natural Heritage Program said...

I have never heard of tarantula ranging that far north in Colorado. They are common in southeastern Colorado and as far north and west as Pueblo. Recently they have been frequently reported in the Colorado Springs area, which may suggest that climate changes have allowed for a northward expansion of their range. Could they be at Chatfield Reservoir? Probably not, but such a dramatic range expansion would be worth noting.

John Sovell
CNHP Invertebrate Zoologist

Anonymous said...

I am trying to figure out what species the tarantulas in Montezuma County, SW corner of the state, might be. A. echinum? Only seen males after their final molt.

Dennis Garrison
dennisgarrison_at_hotmail.com

Colorado Natural Heritage Program said...

Dennis,

I am not familiar with the species of tarantulas that inhabit southwestern Colorado, but you might contact Dr. Boris Kondratieff at CSU. He may be able to answer your question.

John Sovell
CNHP Invertebrate Zoologist

Colorado Natural Heritage Program said...

Update - Boris kindly suggested instead contacting Dr. Paula Cushing of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who specializes in spiders. Thank you Dr. Kondratieff.

Anonymous said...

I just caught one of these in my backyard last night. It was wandering across my patio as I was entertaining guests (some not so fond of spiders!). I live in Denver!!

Anonymous said...

My fiance and I drove HWY 67 from HWY 50 to Victor today and spotted one one these ( with the same markings) crossing the road in Phantom Canyon. It was very alert as it turned and faced our vehicles each time we moved forward. Absolutely amazing! I had never seen a tarantula, let alone in Colorado.

Ronda said...

There was one walking across CSU-P campus today. Right through crowds of people. I live in pueblo.

kyle said...

I have caught one in SW Colorado, Durango La Plata County Airport to be exact. I see them out walking the grounds every November. This one is smaller, approx 1" head to butt 3"leg to leg. Mostly black with brown legs.

Elia Fisher said...

I read a few of the above comments on this blog entry and wanted to add something worth noting in regard to the distribution of tarantulas in Colorado. Back in 1998 while hiking Dinosaur Ridge near Chatfield Reservoir I, too, came across a live tarantula. In light of this incident and those mentioned in the above entries I believe that it is fair to assume that tarantulas enjoy an occasional presence in northern Colorado around the Denver area.

Anonymous said...

I live in Watkins just east of Denver and Have seen these 1/2" to 3/4" holes in the ground for about 4 years now and have wondered what they were. Tonight me and my daughters were walking out in the yard around sunset and seen something go down one of these holes. So we filled it with water and waited and this large spider came out. We caught it and did some searching online and found it to be the Colorado Tarantula! It has six babies on it's back.

tim newberg said...

I live in Boulder and my son swears he saw a tarantula under a tarp he picked up that was covering our piano outside. Is that possible?

Colorado Natural Heritage Program said...

Hi Tim, as you can see from some of the other comments, people are seeing what appear to be tarantulas as far north as Denver. This would be a definite range expansion from what is currently known about these spiders, but isn't out of the realm of possibility, especially with recent warming trends. Escaped/released pets is another possibility, as is the possible mis-identification of wolf spiders, which are almost as large and equally hairy.

Boulder, being even further north and closer to the mountains, seems less likely to have a natural population of tarantulas. Could it have been a wolf spider?

Anonymous said...

faithfully around sept, oct...they can be found from south of La Junta to Kim

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