This picture taken in September 2006 (can you see the angle of the sun?), is of a beautiful Missouri Tarantula. These spiders are actually quite common in the southern 1/3 of the state. This spider is easily 3-4 inches long and is probably a female.
The tarantula's large size and shaggy appearance is frightening to many people, leading them to believe it has a ferocious nature. It actually is a shy creature, quick to evade humans. Taranthulas are typically at home in areas seldom frequented by people. They appear to prefer dry, rocky glades, where they spend their days in silk-lined burrows in abandoned rodent or reptile tunnels or in other natural cavities. Like many hunting spiders, tarantulas are active at night, when they hunt for insects such as crickets. In late summer and fall, south Missourians often see these large arachnids crossing roads. This wandering phenomenon has been documented in male tarantulas in southern California, but it has not been studied in Missouri."