TARANTULA. The tarantula (Lycosa tarantula) belongs to the mining section of the family Lycosidm or Wolf Spiders. Its cephalothorax is dorsally of a brownish grey colour, whilst the abdomen is more distinctly brown, and marked with either two or three pairs of triangular black spots above the apex of the triangles pointing backwards. One of the most striking specific characteristics of this spider is a large circular black spot which covers the anterior ventral half of the abdomen, the remainder of this surface presenting an ochreous hue. The largest species does not exceed inch in length. The eight eyes are arranged in three transverse rows, the anterior containing four small eyes, while behind this two pairs of larger eyes are arranged in two rows, the eyes of the hindermost row having between them a wider interval than the first pair.
The tarantula is widely distributed in southern Europe, round the shores of the Mediterranean. It occurs throughout Spain and is found in southern France, and extends into Asia. In Italy it is said to be especially common in Apulia, round the town of Taranto, from which place the name of this spider is usually derived. A species has also been described from northern Africa. It is usually to be found in dry pieces of waste land exposed to the sun. It lives in an nnderground passage, which it digs for itself and lines with its web. These passages are round in section, and sometimes an inch in diameter, and may extend to a depth of a foot or more below the surface. The tube first descends vertically for some inches, then bends at an obtuse angle, becoming vertical again near its closed end. The tarantula takes up its position at the first bend, where it can command the entrance, on the lookout for prey. In some cases the tube is prolonged above the surface of the earth by the formation of a small funnel, built up of fragments of wood and earth, and lined like the walls of the tunnel by the web. The females show considerable maternal care for their offspring, and sometimes sit upon their egg sacs ; and the species, although somewhat fierce and combative amongst themselves, are capable of being tamed.