Best time to travel to Arizona

Tarantula Migration in Arizona

Every fall, thousands of tarantulas roam the desert looking for a mate

Best time: June–October

Tarantula Migration

Most Arizona residents have encountered the desert tarantula or Aphonpelma chalcodes, one of the most common spider species in the state. It's especially abundant in the Tucson area. Each summer, with the start of monsoon season in June, thousands of male tarantulas leave their burrows and venture out looking for females. The mating season lasts through October.

Desert tarantulas are quite large, brown, and hairy. Males are typically smaller and darker, while females are covered in tan hair that gave them the name: the Arizona Blond Tarantula. Hair helps spiders sense their prey or if a predator is near. Tarantulas prefer dry and well-drained open spaces. So the best area to look for them in Arizona is the Sonoran Desert lying in the southern third of the state. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, south-east of Phoenix, or Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an International Biosphere Reserve on the border with Mexico, are some of the best locations to spot tarantulas. These spiders are most active right before sunset and during the night time.

Practical info

When can male tarantulas be spotted in Arizona?

Male tarantulas emerge from their burrows in Arizona during the monsoon season from June to October. Show more

What are the best places to observe tarantulas in Arizona?

The southern Sonoran Desert region of Arizona, including Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and the Tucson area, is ideal for observing tarantulas. Show more

What characteristics differentiate male and female tarantulas aside from size?

Darkness and smaller size physically set male tarantulas apart from their tan-furred female counterparts. Male tarantulas rely on physical and chemical indications determined by the pheromones that females release before mate selection. Show more

What wildlife inhabit the Sonoran Desert aside from tarantulas?

Arizona's Sonoran Desert is home to other wildlife such as rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, Gila monsters and javelinas. The towering Saguaro cactus and other indigenous plants, including barrel cactus and Paloverde trees, are prevalent in this area. Show more

What methods do tarantulas use to protect themselves from predators?

Tarantulas will use venom to protect against predators. When endangered, they may also eject their hairs and rub them on the predator's face, causing inflammation and confusion, giving them time to flee or counterattack. Show more

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