Happy Friday!!! It’s time again for another edition of Friday Flyers. Here’s a riddle for you: What has 8 legs, 8 eyes, 2 fangs, and is totally covered with hair? If you answered, “My last 4 blind dates”, then you’re at the wrong Facebook page. On our Wonders Of Nature page, 8 legs, 8 eyes, 2 fangs, and covered with hair can only be a Tarantula! Yes we know; if spiders don’t have wings, how can they be Friday Flyers? Well, call it “literary license”. Anyway you’re correct, spiders do not have wings. In fact, spiders are not Insects, they are Arachnids. Spiders come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and they are very successful predators, feeding mostly on insects and other small prey. In temperate climates, they generally hatch from eggs in the spring, live their whole life cycle, and die in the fall when the weather becomes too cold. In the tropics where the temperature is always warm, some spiders have life spans of several years. Also, spiders can live in a wide variety of habitats including treetops, underground tunnels, underwater, arid deserts, and in caves. There are even species of communal spiders that spin dense webs spanning 10 to 20 feet and containing thousands of individuals within. Spiders have developed an equally wide spectrum of hunting abilities and methods, but primarily falling into two categories, either actively hunting, or using webs to snare their prey. Hunting spiders generally have very good eyesight and also highly sensitive hairs on their bodies and legs that can detect vibrations caused by their prey or their predators. The eyesight of web spiders is generally less effective, and some cave-dwelling spiders have eyes but are actually blind. Sooner or later, the spider’s success comes down to the poisonous venom that it injects into its prey through its fangs. Certain species of spiders have venom that can be lethal to humans, but most species’ bites result in minimal to moderate pain, swelling, and complete recovery in a relatively short time.
Spiders are fascinating animals, with many being stunningly beautiful, but the vast majority of collectors are only interested in the larger spiders like Tarantulas. This is mostly due to the difficulty in preserving spiders. Smooth skinned spiders tend to lose their bright colors when drying, and also because their bodies are soft they tend to shrivel up when drying. Sometimes they can be preserved with chemicals like alcohol or acetone which dries them fast enough to prevent some of the deterioration, but usually not effectively. One of the methods used to preserve Tarantulas and their other large relatives is to cut them open and “stuff” them. This maintains their shape, and the fact that they are hairy preserves their color because the pigments in the hair are stable. It takes lots of skill and time to properly position and prepare spiders for collections. This is why a properly mounted Tarantula is so impressive.
Tarantulas have exceptionally large fangs that can pierce even some of the hardest beetle shells. Most of the Tarantulas have leg spans from 4 to 12 inches as adults. The largest are the “bird eating spiders” which live in the treetops and are able to prey on small birds in their nests!!! Usually, Tarantulas crawl at a very slow and deliberate pace almost appearing as if they are walking in slow motion. But when they want to, they can move at lightning speed for short distances. We normally have several framed Tarantulas in our Wonders Of Nature department. We have a light brown Tarantula in a 8 X 6-inch frame for $125.00, and a purple legged Tarantula with a 8 ½-inch leg span in a 11 X 9-inch frame for $175.00. Both are exceptional specimens, perfectly spread with the fangs visible. These beautifully framed and matted specimens will be wonderful additions to your growing collection, and you’ll marvel at them for many years to come.
Finally, be sure to tell your Facebook friends about our Friday Flyers weekly feature. We truly enjoy this opportunity to introduce the amazing world of insects to you, and we love sharing our passion with new friends. We hope to see you soon.
***In case you didn’t know, we can take custom orders on your favorite insects, and would be delighted to make a custom frame for you.
One of the largest tarantulas we've seen! By comparison, the moth above him has a wingspan of roughly 2". This is one of several 8-legged residents of a jungle camp we stayed at while doing butterfly research in South America. When startled, he raised is forelegs and displayed his fangs. Then, he darted off to a dark corner. They can move INCREDIBLY fast when they want to!!
A tarantula discovered during one of our butterfly research trips to South America. We were adding to the museum collection of insects at this reserve.
Surveying a massive communal spider web on one of our South American research trips. The following year the web covered nearly one full block of rainforest!
Residents of the communal web we discovered on one of our research trips to the jungle.
A bird-eating tarantula from our September 7, 2013 Friday Flyers post. At $125, this would make quite the conversation piece!!!
The purple-legged tarantula from our September 7, 2013 Friday Flyers post! This monster is $175. Please take a look at the other pictures, which show the purple iridescence on the legs!
One of the rarest and most spectacular tarantulas! This monster is from South America, and it's favorite prey are birds!!! We have this specimen framed for $175 - why not buy it and scare the hell out of your friends!!
Another picture of our amazing purple-legged tarantula!
A baby tarantula, about 2" across. We came across this guy on a jungle trail during some night research we were doing in South America. Note the long leg hairs. These are poisonous, and the hairs give a nasty sting!