Tarantula, name applied to a species of European wolf spider, whose bite is not dangerous. The name is generally applied in the United States to the so-called American tarantulas. These are large, hairy spiders occurring in the southwestern United States, Central America, South America, and other New World tropical regions. They feed on insects and a variety of small animals. A large species of this group has a bite that is painful but never, so far as accurate records show, fatal to humans.

Scientific classification: Tarantulas belong to the order Araneae. The European wolf spider belongs to the family Lycosidae. It is classified as Lycosa tarentula. American tarantulas belong to the family Theraphosidae. One large species of this group is classified as Eurypelma californica.

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