Saturday, April 26, 2008

On the Tarantula

My name means
Wolf spider
But I’m not
Big biter.
My body’s
Quite hirsute
In or out
Of a suit.
Though I emit silk
I don’t secrete milk.
I’ve got two eyes
But I don’t use them as much
As I do my sense of touch.
My exoskeleton does
some molting
And this can look a little
If I’m a male
I’m not as large
As a female.
I like to eat insects
But I’ll eat a lizard or a mouse
When each one least expects

1561, "wolf spider," (Lycos tarantula), from M.L. tarantula, from It. tarantola, from Taranto "Taranto," seaport city in southern Italy in the region where the spiders are frequently found, from L. Tarentum, from Gk. Taras (gen. Tarantos). Its bite is only slightly poisonous. Popularly applied to other great hairy spiders, especially the genus Mygale, native to the warmer regions of the Americas (first so called in 1794).
Tarantulas may live for years--most species taking 2 to 5 years to reach adulthood, but some species may take up to 10 years to reach full maturity. Upon reaching adulthood, males typically have but a 1 to 1.5 year period left to live and will immediately go in search of a female with which to mate. It is rare that upon reaching adulthood the male tarantula will molt again. The oldest spider, according to Guinness World Records, lived to be 49 years old.
Females will continue to molt after reaching maturity. Female specimens have been known to reach 30 to 40 years of age, and have survived on water alone for up to 2.5 years.


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