Phylum Arthropoda, Class Arachnida, Order Araneae, Family Theraphosidae

Lasiodora parahybana

DISTRIBUTION: Throughout northeastern Brazil.

HABITAT:  Tropical forest floor

APPEARANCE: Said to be the third largest spider in the world, this is a large-bodied tarantula with abdomen and legs covered with sensitive, long, and partially pink or salmon-colored hairs.   Maximum size: body, 9-10 cm (3.5–4 in); leg span, 20-25 cm (8–10 in).

DIET: Lie and wait carnivore, eating large crawling insects and other invertebrates, small rodents, lizards, and frogs rarely seen eating birds like newly hatched chicks of ground-dwelling birds. Venom injected by chelicerae that liquefy the kill, which is then sucked in by the mouthparts.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: The male spins a small area of silk onto which he deposits his sperm. The sperm is then absorbed into the pedipalps, which during mating are inserted into the genital opening of the female, transferring the sperm, which remains viable. After insemination, the male makes a swift retreat as the much smaller males occasionally become a sacrifice to the female’s need to maintain the nutritional viability of a mother-to-be. The female lays up to 2000 fertilized eggs in a thick, silken sac which she guards fiercely. Young spiderlings are born about 3 weeks later. Voracious feeders, they grow quickly.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Tarantulas have few enemies except tarantula hawk wasps. Members of this wasp family use their sting to paralyze species specific tarantulas. The wasp lays an egg on the tarantula’s abdomen and then seals the spider in its burrow. The wasp larva hatches and feeds on the immobile and doomed tarantula. Males usually die shortly after maturity and mating. Females can live over 20 years in the wild, perhaps significantly longer.

REMARKS: Like most tarantulas and some other spiders, if this spider loses one of its legs and is still in a growth stage, it can regrow the lost appendage,

While not highly aggressive and bites are not fatal to humans (most tarantula bites are similar to a bee sting in toxicity), this big bruiser, because of its long fangs, can inflict a serious wound which one researcher defined as “capable of medically significant mechanical damage”!

If pursued by a potential foe, the spider rubs its legs against its abdomen, throwing tiny, barbed hairs that become imbedded in the attacker. The barbs can cause significant irritation, especially if lodged in the eyes or nasal passages.