Photo by Jerry Schudda
Desert Blonde Tarantula – Aphonopelma chalcodes
This large spider was given the name “blonde” due to the pale to tan hairs on its cephalothorax, which contrast with its usually darker legs and abdomen. Although venomous, this spider is generally considered to be docile and its bite is nearly harmless to humans. The barbed hairs on its cephalothorax, however, can prove to be a potent irritant when provoked.
These urticating hairs are commonly collected in the clothes and hands of people who handle the spider and subsequently can be rubbed into the skin or mucous membranes. If inhaled, these hairs can cause symptoms similar to an asthma attack with swelling of the airway requiring hospitalization.