Where The Name Tarantula Came
The European Wolf Spider
(Click on picture to
The name tarantula comes
from a real spider that is found in
southern Italy, it lives mainly in an
area around the town of Taranto. In fact
the real tarantula (The European Wolf
Spider, Lycosa Tarantula) is
distantly related to the other spiders
that share its name.
tarantula is a small slightly hairy
spider (about 2 inches (5cm's) across).
It is not dangerous to humans!
The people of the southern Italian town of
Taranto, believed that if they were bitten by
they spider that they called tarantula, if the
bite was not treated quickly, that they would
The only way to survive it's bite, they
believed, was to do a dance called the
Tarantella. This involved very fast spinning and
jumping until they could dance no more and fell
to the ground exhausted. This the locals believed
was the only cure.
Interestingly, it appears that the spider that was probably
responsible for illnesses and the occasional deaths was in fact
a member of the Latrodectus (Black Widow) family of spiders.
This is a small spider in comparison with the wolf spider that
was getting the blame.
The real Tarantula of course is, like the
other spiders wrongly named after it, are not
really dangerous to most humans. You may feel a
little sick if you have been bitten by a
tarantula, but normally that is all.
Nowadays, all large hairy spiders have been
given the name tarantula, even though many are
only very distantly related to the real
tarantula. Tarantulas are often called bird
eating spiders, very few actually eat birds,
those that do usually raid nests and take the
young chicks, most however, like our native
spiders only eat insects.
Other Pages About Tarantula