Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Survival - Hairy Mygalomorphs

Pictured above is just one of the many hairy mygalamorphs I have living in my yard. These large hairy creatures are actually quite harmless to humans. They bite only when you mishandle them and the effect of the bite is similar to that of a bee sting. Tarantulas, as they are more commonly referred to, are not true spiders. Tarantulas belong to the family Mygalomorphae and are often referred to as "Hairy Mygalomorphs”. True spiders belong to the family Araneomorphae.

Tarantulas, or hairy mygalomorphs as they should be called, are generally found in the United States in areas west of the Mississippi River and South of a line that runs through the middle of Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada and continuing on through Northern California.

They generally live in burrows in the ground lined with their silk and females of the species can live as long as 20 to 25 years. The males have a much shorter lifespan.
The picture above is one I found entering his burrow. This one must have been hungry! He was out and about pretty early.

I have a large contingent of hairy mygalomorphs that reside in an area of my yard with approximately 30 to 35 active burrows. They are generally nocturnal and I have seen as many as fifteen or twenty roaming around in the yard at night looking for insects to pounce on (they actually pounce instead of jump) when they are searching for food. I can sometimes coax them out of their burrows during the early evening hours but they have a tendency to get a little irritated when I do this. They are generally quite playful little creatures and many people keep them as pets.

In many places they are endangered due to the fact that hairy mygalomorphs are considered a delicacy. They have a peanut butter type flavor when roasted. Yummy for your tummy!
Just kidding!

They actual have a better value as a predator that helps control the insect population and generally don’t cause any harm if left alone. The ones that have set up home in my yard have been around for over twenty years and have never caused me a problem. I just take a flashlight with me at night so I don't acidentally step on one of them. I’ve included pics of some of the burrows in my yard. Many are only a few feet apart from each other and active burrows usually have silk-lined entryways or silk-covered entrances.

You can check out some quick facts about hairy mygalomorphs here:


Got hairy mygalomorphs? Practice your bushcraft skills and see if you can find where they are living in your yard!

Hairy mygalomorphs...gotta love 'em!

Staying above the water line!



Bitmap said...

Certain times of the year here you will see a lot of them for a few days, then they seem to disappear. I've never found any burrows around my yard like in your pics.

riverwalker said...

To: Bitmap

Their activity increases during the mating season and probably accounts for seeing them at certain times of the year. They are also cannabilistic in that they will eat each other. I think I have several large females on a 3/4 acre space where most of my fruit trees are, which probably tend to increase the food supply (i.e., more insects). i generally just leave them alone and use a little extra caution if moving around in that area of the yard.

You can see the silk in the pictures that they use to line the entrance or to cover it.There are a lot of burrows in that section of the yard only and it seems that different burrows show different levels of activity or use from time to time.


Pickdog said...

Wow! Cool! I have not seen any at the compound.

matthiasj said...

Those look scary RW. Glad they're not dangerous.

Kentucky Preppers Network

riverwalker said...

To: pickdog

I'd be willing to bet they are out there but you haven't been looking close enough to find them. They're actually quite common in this area. Look some more and you'll find the little buggers!


riverwalker said...

To: matthiasj

The first picture is one I caught entering his burrow and I used a small twig to coax him out of his burrow. He kept wanting to go back in and I had a hard time convincing him to sit still long enough for me take his picture. I said "cheese" but probably should have said "cricket"!LOL


Mayberry said...

Thankfully, I ain't got none of those! The green anoles and six striped race runners keep the bugs down 'round here...

riverwalker said...


Got plenty of the race runners around here also. The wife's Lab goes crazy trying to catch them.


Anonymous said...

Gotta love them? Like H E double hockey sticks I do, lol. But you are right, they don't seem to be aggressive towards humans and try and stay out of our way. Still give me the Willys though.

Learned a lot about them in your post - much appreciated RW. See old movie KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS - whoo man, I'm glad these things are this small.

Try and stay cool - century mark again, most likely - oh joy!

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 6:30

Got into spiders while talking about scorpions and decide it was time to post about "hairy mygalomorphs". The movies had a tendency to portray spiders as evil and vicious creatures. They preyed on the fears of people to get big box office numbers. Thanks.


Patricia said...

Well I guess I won't be going out at night anymore... Sheesh. I would have a heart attack if I ran into any of these. Glad to know more about them though. Thanks.

riverwalker said...

To: Patricia

Just take a light and be careful where you step!


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