Not everyone loves spiders, but as far as creepie crawlies go, this blue metallic spider has such a striking appearance that some readers have asked if it is real or fake.
Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tarantula
Upon first glance of this brilliantly-colored spider, one may thing it might be another example of a Photoshop contest, such as the popular (and fake) golden snake photo. This blue spider, however, is real.
Poecilotheria metallica is a species of tarantula native to a small area of India and Sri Lanka. Known commonly as the Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tree Spider, this name comes from the city Gooty, India in which a specimen was discovered.
This tarantula should not be confused with the more common Cobalt Blue Tarantula.
Poecilotheria metallica was first discovered in 1899, and “rediscovered” in 2001 in an area between Nandyal and Giddalur. It is now listed as Critically Endangered and only found in a single area of less than 100 square kilometers.
In 2015, National Geographic published an article on blue spiders, including Poecilotheria metallica. It was noted that scientists found that blue color in different spiders evolved independently in several instances, although the reason for such color is still a mystery. The mechanics of the blue hue is due to nanocrystals which reflect only that wavelength of incoming light.
Below are some great photos of the Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tree Spider:
The video below shows a specimen in captivity.
Due to their color and rarity, this creature is a highly coveted species by tarantula traders, selling for a premium of several hundred dollars or more.
The venom of these spiders is known to paralyze other insects. Although there have been no reported human deaths from the bite of a Gooty Sapphire, however it can still cause a “medically significant bite” leading to intense pain, sweating, cramping, and swelling.
- Females can live up to 12 years, while males only live about 3-4 years.
- They typically feed on flying insects that they capture in flight, such as fruit flies. Crickets are also commonly fed.
- Adult specimens can reach 6-8 inches in size
- Natural habitat restricted to a small area of only 39 square miles.
- Adult fangs can grow to almost .75 of an inch
The Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tarantula is a beautiful blue metallic spider which is critically endangered, and coveted by tarantula enthusiasts who will pay $500 or more for a specimen. Although it is not considered deadly, the bite from one of these spiders can lead to pain and swelling. Photos of the spider have circulated online with some readers believing it may not be real, due to its brilliant color.
Updated February 6, 2016
Originally published November 2012