Baby's first dwarf Aphonopelma turrets!

CommanderBacon

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
388
I went to Joshua Tree National Park this weekend to look for cool bugs and randy male A iodius. While it's early in the season for them and I didn't see any personally, I saw someone on IG had managed to find a fresh looking male in the park.

What I did find, however, was a cluster of dwarf Aphonopelma turrets! I never thought I'd be able to find some on my own, but I kept an eye out. After 5:30pm, I went to look for A iodius and nearly stepped on this:
IMG_3181.JPG

It looked like someone had accidentally kicked or stepped on it previously, since it was a little oblong shaped. I was so excited that a couple walking by were like "what did you find?" and I was like, "a dwarf tarantula burrow!" and they looked unimpressed and kept walking.

Anyway, the hole was about a half inch in diameter and went deep down. The turret was softer than it looked and clearly had web in the center - very obviously a dwarf Aphonopelma. I believe that it was A joshua, but I understand that A mojave are also found in the area, so I have no idea which it could have been.

About 15 feet away, we found another two, a little over a foot away from each other:
IMG_3187.JPG

One was almost an inch in diameter and the other was about 1/3" in diameter.

We didn't have any luck teasing the spiders out, but I believe the burrows are extremely deep. I shone a flashlight down one and could not see the bottom.

Still, as a person who loves dwarf Aphonopelma, I was thrilled to be able to find these! It totally made my weekend.
 

Matt Man

Arachnoangel
Active Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2017
Messages
809
super cool find, how cool would it have been to see a few Ts in those
 

CommanderBacon

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
388
super cool find, how cool would it have been to see a few Ts in those
I wish! I brought only one gallon of water to try to flush them out. I felt bad about harassing the spiders just to get a look at one, but I picked one turret to try. The hole was so deep and the soil so porous it took all the water and there was no sign of a spider!

It was really exciting to see them, though! I haven't seen any tarantulas in the wild before. It was my main purpose for going out, since it was the beginning of mating season, but other than one male that someone else took a photo of and uploaded to Instagram the same day, I didn't see any myself. I think I went out a week too early. Oh well! I got a lot of photos of other creatures, such as this southern desert horned lizard and a desert iguana.

IMG_3154.JPG

IMG_3030.jpg

I also saw a group of desert quail, roadrunners, desert cottontails, and a black tailed jackrabbit. Nature was putting on a show for me. Still, the turrets made my weekend!
 

CommanderBacon

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
388
A joshua isn’t the only dwarf species in the area from what I was told, but yes, they do build turrets. Ref: https://www.researchgate.net/public...aneae_Mygalomorphae_Theraphosidae_Aphonopelma

I am confident these were dwarf Aphonopelma burrows. I’ve seen many photos of them, and species in my own collection have also made them. I also confirmed with someone very familiar with them that there were what I thought they were.

I’ve kept multiple species of Hogna and none of their burrows ever looked like this. If you found one inside one, it may have appropriated an abandoned burrow, but these were extremely tiny. No juvenile Hogna sp I’ve kept built anything like this.

These burrows were also incredibly deep. I was told that there was no way I was going to be able to flush a specimen out with the amount of water I had on hand.

I might have thought they were abandoned burrows, but the likelihood of them maintaining this structural integrity in an area with such high foot traffic is low unless something was living in them, I think. I was surprised to see them in such an active area.
 

advan

oOOo
Staff member
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
2,047
A joshua isn’t the only dwarf species in the area from what I was told, but yes, they do build turrets. Ref: https://www.researchgate.net/public...aneae_Mygalomorphae_Theraphosidae_Aphonopelma

I am confident these were dwarf Aphonopelma burrows. I’ve seen many photos of them, and species in my own collection have also made them. I also confirmed with someone very familiar with them that there were what I thought they were.

I’ve kept multiple species of Hogna and none of their burrows ever looked like this. If you found one inside one, it may have appropriated an abandoned burrow, but these were extremely tiny. No juvenile Hogna sp I’ve kept built anything like this.

These burrows were also incredibly deep. I was told that there was no way I was going to be able to flush a specimen out with the amount of water I had on hand.

I might have thought they were abandoned burrows, but the likelihood of them maintaining this structural integrity in an area with such high foot traffic is low unless something was living in them, I think. I was surprised to see them in such an active area.
The revision only lists A. atomicum, A. icenoglei, A. mojave, and A. prenticei as turret builders. The photo from your link is of a A. mojave burrow not A. joshua. The A. joshua I found had normal burrows, no turret.

But it's a moot point to argue when you didn't even see a tarantula or even legs.

The only other dwarf in the Joshua tree area is A. icenoglei and I did not observe this species even though I was in a known collection area. It was the wrong time of the year.

I suggest you read the revision and keep it close, it will help with future hunting and IDing. https://zookeys.pensoft.net/article/6264/

Keep hunting, you will waste a lot of time/water thinking you found a Aphonopelma burrow only for it to be Hogna. :rofl:
 

CommanderBacon

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
388
The revision only lists A. atomicum, A. icenoglei, A. mojave, and A. prenticei as turret builders. The photo from your link is of a A. mojave burrow not A. joshua. The A. joshua I found had normal burrows, no turret.

But it's a moot point to argue when you didn't even see a tarantula or even legs.

The only other dwarf in the Joshua tree area is A. icenoglei and I did not observe this species even though I was in a known collection area. It was the wrong time of the year.

I suggest you read the revision and keep it close, it will help with future hunting and IDing. https://zookeys.pensoft.net/article/6264/

Keep hunting, you will waste a lot of time/water thinking you found a Aphonopelma burrow only for it to be Hogna. :rofl:
I never said it was A joshua. That was you.

In any case, I am familiar with Hogna sp behavior and burrows. What makes you think this is a Hogna sp burrow other than you saw one come out of one once? They appropriate rodent burrows often as well.
 

CommanderBacon

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
388
Also can you point to where in the 2016 revision it states explicitly that only those four species build turrets? Because this is also from the revision and I don’t read this as indicating that A joshua doesn’t build turrets.
 

Attachments

advan

oOOo
Staff member
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
2,047
I never said it was A joshua. That was you.

In any case, I am familiar with Hogna sp behavior and burrows. What makes you think this is a Hogna sp burrow other than you saw one come out of one once? They appropriate rodent burrows often as well.
Not once, I flushed multiple. Anyways, I texted Dr. Brent and this is his reply:

“Happy holidays! They do but it’s not uncommon for them to be flattened too (that’s the case for all the turret builders)”.
 

Smotzer

Arachnoprince
Active Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
1,698
Very Jealous of you!!! I was there a very long time ago, what part of the area were you in?

I wanted to try and search to see if there were any Aphonopelma’s in BBNP. I’m going to go back and search later in the year as there are a few distinct biomes that might support them.
 

CommanderBacon

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
388
Very Jealous of you!!! I was there a very long time ago, what part of the area were you in?

I wanted to try and search to see if there were any Aphonopelma’s in BBNP. I’m going to go back and search later in the year as there are a few distinct biomes that might support them.
It was less than 15 feet away from the curb of a turnout about 3 miles into the park. A very busy area! I was surprised!

I’m told there is also a population cluster near the Quail Springs campground on the other side of the park, but it was very busy that day and I was trying to avoid people. I was mainly hoping to find randy male A iodius, but I was there a little early in the season. I saw another hiker found one, though.

I wish I brought more water, because the burrows were extremely deep. Still, finding them was enough for me! I’ll know better next time!
 
Top