This Creature is on the Move Now in Arizona: Do You Know What to Do?
The monsoon rains bring a lot of life to our thirsty desert. Moisture, green, growing things, and creatures who seem to reanimate when the rains arrive.
The rains also summon some big, hairy creatures to life, activating their quest for romance. No, not your creepy Uncle Bert. Tarantulas. (Although, tarantulas may have some things in common with your uncle.)
Big, Hairy, Creatures
As the rains come, tarantulas are once again on the move. Big, hairy arachnids large enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Not that you should pick them up. I'm just saying, they could fill the palm of your hand.
You might see these hairy spiders crawling around your backyard or walking slowly across roads. No, they're not invaders from another planet or close personal friends of your Uncle Bert. I'm talking about desert tarantulas. And these guys get pretty active during the summer and early fall.
They roam the desert for love. It's the annual tarantula mating season when these normally reclusive beings emerge and begin their quest for romance.
Tarantula Mating Season
According to Wikipedia, Tarantula mating season begins in June right around the time the monsoons begin, ending sometime in October.
This is when you're most likely to see male tarantulas roaming around trying to find a mate. Male tarantulas are typically smaller and darker than females. The males are pretty dedicated to their quests. They have been known to travel several miles as they follow pheromone trails left by the females.
When they find a possible mate, the male knocks on the lady spider's door. He taps on the entrance of her burrow, asking her if she wants to come out and do a little love dance with him. If she is receptive, she will come out and the love story begins.
Tarantulas aren't looking to pick a fight with humans as they go on their romantic quest. If you leave them alone, they'll stay as far out of your way as they can.
Remember, they're like a bunch of single-minded, teenage boys at this point. So, don't be surprised if they get a little confused and end up in a place you'd rather not have them, like your garage or your living room.
They are mostly harmless to humans, but some people may be afraid of them or allergic to them. If you encounter a tarantula, here are some tips on what to do:
If you find one in your house, use a large container like a glass or a bowl to invert over it. Then gently slide a stiff piece of cardboard or a plate underneath the bowl, so you can pick up, carry it out of the house and release it. Remember to be gentle. They can be a bit fragile.
Remember, tarantulas only bite if they feel threatened or provoked, and their venom is not very potent. Most tarantula bites can be treated with ice and antihistamines.
Leave Them Alone!
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum says tarantulas are beneficial predators that help control insect populations. Leave them alone and they'll help keep the smaller creepy crawlies at bay.
Tarantulas have urticating or stinging hairs on their abdomen that they can release when disturbed. These hairs can irritate, itch, and inflame the skin.
If your crazy Uncle Bert does end up touching one, tell him to wash the stinging hairs off with soap and water as soon as possible.
Don't Capture Them, But Check Out Tarantulas in the Wild
Again, tarantulas are part of the ecosystem. Let them do their job. If you see them, you don't need to run away or try to hurt them. They're not interested in you, remember? Unless you have eight hairy legs and really cute thorax, they'll probably just move along.
These creepy critters are pretty fascinating. Remember, they're just another part of this beautiful desert landscape. Stay out of their way, and they'll stay out of yours.