Folks in California will have to watch where they step starting this weekend, else they may end up squishing Mr. Tarantula, who wanted nothing more than a little love from a potential love interest.
Male tarantulas typically live underground in burrows, but when it's mating season and especially during warmer weather, they are apt to come above ground like frat boys going to the local collegiate bar in search of a girl to bring home for the night. The female tarantulas and potential companions live in their own burrows, primping until they are found if, that is, they wish to be. If they don't want to be found, though, they may have to make a concentrated effort to get away, considering these males have been living underground without a mate for a duration of anywhere from 5 to 12 years. That's a long time without any lady-loving.
The IB Times has the low-down on the inner workings of a tarantula's courtship. Once he finds a female's burrow, he tastes the silk around the burrow to see if she is mature enough (sounds a bit creepy, doesn't it?). He will then "knock" on the surface above the burrow to let her know he's come a-callin' - complete with his sperm web attached to his back, just in case she wasn't sure whether or not he was there to sell door-to-door beauty products or to procreate.
The male, however, can suffer a similar fate to that of the Praying Mantis in that if he chooses to mate with a hungry female, instead of becoming a daddy, he may just become her lunch. So, if the lady tarantula comes to the door to invite him in for a nightcap, he'd better skip the foreplay and get straight to the inseminating. Then, he can scurry away like a boyfriend through a bedroom window before she breaks out the knife and fork.
After the two have completed their copulation, the female will wrap both the sperm and her eggs together in a protective cocoon, which she will then watch over for a period of six to nine weeks. At that point, she will become the mother of 500 to 1,000 baby tarantulas. Think about that for a second - 500 to 1,000 baby tarantulas. If that doesn't make your skin crawl...
Tarantulas may look scary and hairy, but they are generally harmless. Hikers and bikers are the most likely of candidates to cross paths with these horny arachnids this weekend and next. If you are one of these folks who happens to run across one of these tarantulas, don't react in fear and/or squish it. Just let him be - after all, he could be on his way to his very last date. Just don't attempt to touch the tarantula, as he could perceive this as a threat and fight back in an attempt to defend himself. The tarantula mating season will continue for the next few weeks until the first winter rains start pouring in.
At least the tarantulas are engaging in what could be deemed a positive activity, as opposed to the drunken wasps that are terrorizing the U.K., or the giant hornets who are either killing or leaving bullet wound-like injuries on their victims in China.