The tarantulas shall be popping out of hiding quickly in southeastern Colorado, however there’s nothing to concern (that may be arachnophobia) as they’re fairly innocent. And also you shouldn’t consider the annual phenomenon as a migration or invasion, because it’s generally described.
Mating season begins in late August and peaks in mid-September, in response to Whitney Cranshaw, a just lately retired Colorado State College entomologist. Males of the species that reside in southeastern Colorado, referred to as Texas brown tarantulas or Oklahoma browns, emerge from their burrows once they attain maturity at round Eight years previous.
That’s once they go on what Cranshaw describes as a “walkabout” seeking females, who stay within the neighborhood of their burrows. It’s a closing fling for the blokes, because it have been, as a result of these males are doomed to die later this season. Females reside 20-25 years.
“The time period ‘migration’ is deceptive, as that signifies there’s some directed motion from one location to a different,” Cranshaw mentioned. “And this was an enormous supply of confusion in media experiences that broke out throughout in 2019. I heard of individuals anticipating to see some kind of invasion of migrating tarantulas from Oklahoma into Colorado, as a result of the title Oklahoma brown was used.”
In reality, these media experiences despatched so many of us off in seek for the supposed nice tarantula invasion that they brought about distracted driving on rural roads, creating security issues.
It’s comprehensible why some people could be involved in seeing them, although. Tarantulas of this species (aphonopelma hentzi) are about 4 inches throughout, together with legs. They might look scary, however you don’t have anything to concern in the event you see one.
“Tarantulas are usually not aggressive and they don’t have venom that’s harmful to people,” Cranshaw mentioned. “Solely as soon as have I been bitten, and it was as a result of I foolishly grabbed one by hand. It made a small slice in my finger, kind of like a light paper minimize.”
Tarantulas defend themselves not with bites however with the hairs on their our bodies, Cranshaw mentioned.
“If disturbed, they’ll flick a few of these (hairs) utilizing their legs, and the hairs are spined and could be irritating,” Cranshaw mentioned. “Significantly in the event that they bought into the attention of a possible predator. I’ve skilled it as soon as with a unique species, which I used to be holding for hours whereas speaking with college teams, and bought some hairs between my fingers, which itched loads for days.”
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For years, Cranshaw collected tarantulas to offer college students in a category he taught known as “Bugs, Science and Society.” About 5 years in the past his spouse, Sue Ballou, started becoming a member of him on his nocturnal spider searching. ”It’s my favourite date evening, what can I say?” Ballou mentioned.
“We work as a staff, along with her driving and recognizing,” mentioned Cranshaw, who retired final month after 37 years at CSU. “I hop out and scoop them up after we come throughout them. I’ll in all probability do it once more this yr, Sue desires to. Nonetheless, with all of the publicity and all of the vehicles final yr, it isn’t the identical.”
Tarantula habitat is widespread, however they reside in pockets in undisturbed prairies and rangeland, Cranshaw mentioned. And whereas they roam the rangeland, individuals are inclined to see them when they’re crossing roads that run via their habitat. Locations the place they may be noticed embrace Freeway 109, south of LaJunta in Otero County, and on roads main into Vogel and Picketwire canyons. One other place, Cranshaw mentioned, is Freeway 350 between Trinidad and Timpas. Exercise tends to select up round nightfall.
Some years are higher for observing than others, and final yr was a foul one. Cranshaw believes that was on account of a extreme drought eight years in the past that brought about the survival charge of younger tarantulas to be low.
“Lots of people went to search for them final yr and lots of didn’t see any,” Cranshaw mentioned. “I didn’t see any.”
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