California Hikers Warned to Watch Out for Amorous Tarantulas

But don't worry, they're not a serious threat to humans
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 2, 2016 12:22 PM CDT
California Hikers Warned to Watch Out for Amorous Tarantulas
This photo provided by the National Park Service shows a tarantula at the Rancho Sierra Vista park site, within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Newbury Park, Calif.   (National Park Service)

Tarantulas are out looking for love, and hikers in Southern California's Santa Monica Mountains are warned to watch out for the hairy spiders, reports AP. Tarantula mating season has begun, and it will last through the end of October, the National Park Service said Thursday. That means the giant arachnids will spend the next two months weaving webs just above ground, outside the female's burrow, the Los Angeles Times reports. Because females typically stay inside, if a hiker comes across a tarantula on a footpath, it's probably a male on the lookout for a mate, experts say. Males have been known to search for up to four miles to find a female.

Though they have fangs and carry poison, tarantulas are not considered a serious threat to humans. The spiders move slowly so hikers can take pictures, but humans shouldn't touch or otherwise harass the creatures, said Kate Kuykendall, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica Mountains. While female tarantulas can live for up to 25 years, the average lifespan of the male is only seven or eight years, so their annual chances to spread their genes is limited. To make matters worse, female tarantulas have been known to eat the males if they linger too long after copulation. (Read more tarantula stories.)

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