If you fear tarantulas, stay far away from southeast Colorado right now — they’re everywhere! It’s their mating season, and thousands of the all-male Texas brown tarantulas have descended upon that region.
The tarantulas have reached sexual maturity, which means they are about 10 years old.
They typically head to Colorado from August to October.
Many people find the furry arachnids creepy-looking, as their leg span is 4 to 5 inches. It’s important to know, though, that Texas brown tarantulas are “completely docile,” Mario Padilla, head entomologist at the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center in Colorado, told CNN.
Additionally, the Amarillo Zoo called Texas brown tarantulas “shy” and “nonaggressive.”
Tarantulas do have fangs and venom, but they can’t do too much damage other than piercing your skin. “Even if you accidentally provoke one into attacking you, its venom will affect you only about as much as a bee sting would,” according to Mental Floss.
Still, we’re good with staying far away from these critters.
About Brown Tarantulas
The female tarantulas are 3 inches long and weight 0.7 ounces, according to Live Science. The male tarantulas are smaller. Both males and females are recognizable by their chocolate brown bodies and eight dark brown, nearly black legs. In eastern Colorado, you might see some tarantulas with fur that has reddish-brown or coppery tones, a fact sheet from Colorado State University’s Western Colorado Entomology explained.
Another interesting fact about Texas brown tarantulas? A 2015 study found that because of the way that their legs are constructed, they run faster in warmer weather.
During their time in southeastern Colorado, these tarantulas (which are also called Oklahoma brown tarantulas) are looking for the ladies in prairie grass, such as the kind found in the Comanche National Grassland area.
Female tarantulas are found in burrows that can be a foot deep and are covered with silk on the entrance (more like a door than a web) to deter predators, such as birds, coyotes and lizards. Sometimes the tarantulas live in abandoned mouse burrows, the Amarillo Zoo said.
The female tarantulas don’t stray far from their burrow and will hunt for prey right outside of it. They mostly eat small mammals, other spiders, beetles and other insects.
During mating season, a hopeful male tarantula will journey up to a burrow and drum outside the opening as a way of saying, “Hello, m’lady! Ready for date night?”
But here’s the not-so-great news for the little guy who traveled to get some action and knocked on the door: He will likely die two to three months after mating.
And that’s only if he isn’t first eaten by a female tarantula!
What a way to go.
If you’re out looking for tarantulas, you probably won’t find a hoard of them because they tend to be solitary creatures. CNN reports that some folks do go to the region during tarantula mating season looking to capture one as a pet.
If you want to see tarantulas in the wild, you should go when it’s warm and not too windy, according to a La Junta, Colorado, tourism website. The hour before sunset may be your best bet to find tarantulas out and about, because these creatures are nocturnal.
Tarantula hawks (which are insects that are also called spider wasps) may be flying around and are a good indicator that a tarantula spider is nearby. Adult female tarantula hawks paralyze a tarantula with its stinger and then will bring it back to the nest, according to the National Park Service.
La Junta tourism suggested that September is the best month to find the tarantulas in the grasslands, specifically around Sept. 10. So, it’s not too late to plan a trip to Colorado to see the mating season in action!
But we’re also perfectly OK with staying away and giving the tarantulas some privacy.