It’s officially tarantula mating season in the southwest United States, and you know what that means! Male tarantulas, which typically spend the first five to eight years in their dens until they reach maturity, have come out of hiding to chew bubblegum and have sex and they are all out of bubblegum.
For Los Angeles residents, this means that for the months of September and October, the chance of crossing paths with a male tarantula looking for a mate will increase exponentially, as males have been known to travel up to four whole miles looking for a mate. Females on the other hand, keep in their burrows until just the right gentleman caller comes knocking.
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. As if that weren’t bad enough, female tarantulas have been known to eat the males if they linger too long after copulation.
Hikers are most likely to encounter the tarantulas on trails and footpaths, however, park officials say that although the arachnids have fangs and carry poison, they are mostly harmless as long as humans don’t interrupt their mating ritual.