Tarantulas truly are beneficial creatures to have around out in the wild and this realization can help to overcome unnecessary fear. Where there are tarantulas, there will be fewer pesky insects and mice to invade the campsite. Tarantulas are proficient hunters that are rarely seen during daylight hours and you practically have to search for them just to see one at night. These large spiders avoid anything that is bigger than they are, so it is not as if they prey upon humans, as portrayed in the grade B horror movies.
Tarantulas only rear up to expose their fangs when approached at a short distance or when cornered, so it is best to avoid these situations. These big spiders will crawl into dark places to hide, like shoes or tents, so it is best to stow away items and keep the tent sealed, in order to avoid a situation that can result in getting bit. Anything that is left outside should be carefully shaken out in the morning, just to make sure a tarantula is not hiding inside. These safety measures are important to remember, especially when camping during the tarantula migration season.
Early autumn is when the mass tarantula migration happens out west. Thousands of tarantulas moving all at one time does resemble a mass arachnid migration, but there is more to the story. These eight legged creatures actually are not seeking a cozy winter home when doing the overland quest. The real reason for the autumn migration has to do with mating. In fact, there is no set distance for the migration and there is no specific destination. The tarantulas only go as far as what it takes to find a mate, which may range from a few yards to several miles in any direction.
When these clever spiders go on an autumn season mating mission, they cast away their stealth mode and come right out into the open. It does not matter if a dangerous busy highway stands in the way or a crowded campground is in their path, because mating of utmost importance when these spiders are on the move. They practically fear nothing while on a mating mission, yet they are not aggressive at all. The tarantulas are so preoccupied with their quest, that they do not want to waste time getting involved with life threatening battles along the way.
The docile focused behavior of tarantulas doing a mating migration does present a great opportunity for onlookers to study these amazing creatures. These spiders seem to not mind people looking at them and taking pictures, as long as an observer does not impede their path or get way too close. If a tarantula rears up and exposes its fangs, then it is best to back off so it can continue on its way.
Photographing migrating tarantulas can be a difficult feat to accomplish, because at least one of the legs on the big spider will always be moving, which can blur what would have been a great photo. These arachnids do not pause for a selfie photo contest for much time, so the lens has to be focused on the spider for a few moments till a great still pose can be captured. This also means focusing more on the spider than the surroundings, which can lead to stumbles and awkward situations.
Tarantulas actually do make good pets, but that is another story. Just like with all wild animals, they can sense who is a friend and who is a threat. This all becomes evident when watching migrating tarantulas, especially when trying to get a closer look. For those who have no fear of big spiders, a trip to a place that is renowned for mass tarantula migrations can truly be a memorable experience and the photos definitely will come in handy on Halloween!
One place that I found that offers a good opportunity to observe migrating tarantulas is Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. The early morning hours just after sunrise are best for spotting migrating tarantulas crossing the road. Because Gold Butte is in such a remote place, camping on site is the best option for getting an early start. During my tarantula spotting venture, I camped at a roadside primitive campsite in the Whitney Pocket area. While setting up the tent I noticed several big Tarantula Hawk Wasps, which is a good indicator of being in the right kind of place.
After breaking camp early in the morning, spotting the migrating tarantulas was as easy as cruising along real slow on Gold Butte Road. I do mean slow, because hundreds of tarantulas try to cross this road when seeking a mate. No points are earned by running over these big spiders, because as mentioned earlier, they are beneficial to have around. As far as being able to see these spiders while driving is concerned, it may be difficult to believe, but the tarantulas are big enough to clearly see up ahead even when cruising at over 20 miles per hour! Tarantulas are entertaining, so be sure to take the time to check them out. One tarantula after another can be observed along Gold Butte Road when the migration happens, so just plan on staying busy for several hours after the fun starts!
One of the local bird species actually likes to pick up tarantulas and spear them on the ends of sharp yucca leaves, then return to eat them later. This is an interesting thing to keep an eye out for in this area and it explains why there are dead spiders stuck on the yucca along the road. Little observations like this can enable a better understanding of the natural world. This is all the inspiration needed to make a tarantula spotting venture happen when the first chilly air of autumn arrives!
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