Tarantulas are out looking for love and hikers are being warned to look out for them.
Last weekend, while hiking along the Darington Trail near Folsom Lake, ABC10’s John Bartell came across one of those hairy arachnids. A group of mountain bikers warned John and his girlfriend, who were on the trail at the time, of a tarantula. A surprisingly large tarantula. If you listen closely to the video, you can hear John’s girlfriend warn him about picking up the eight-legged creature.
Wade Spencer, a member of the UC Davis Entomology Department, works with spiders. He said tarantulas can bite, but only if they are only aggressive when agitated. Though they have fangs and carry poison, tarantulas are not considered a serious threat to humans.
“As far as I know, no reported cases of death [by venom],” Spencer said.
Earlier this year, the National Park Service said tarantula mating season began in September and lasted through the end of October. Experts say females typically stay inside, so if a hiker comes across a tarantula on a footpath, it's probably a male on the lookout for a mate.
“We have quite a few species here in California,” Spencer said.
Tarantulas are found in warm climates all over the world. They’re also used for medical research, with Spencer noting their venom has been used for cancer studies. But, scientists still have a lot of studying to do on tarantulas. If you see one, you can take a picture of it and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The spiders move slowly so hikers can take pictures, but park officials urge people not to touch the creatures. Perhaps John didn’t get that message.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.