Texas – In the heat of summer, a spectacle unfolds: countless tarantulas take to the roads, trails, and residential spaces in a captivating quest for companionship.
This captivating tarantula procession commences in May, continuing unabated until July. Their presence, however, can still be noted in Central Texas as late as early October.
“Tarantulas’ ubiquity in Texas, paired with their impressive size, renders them quite conspicuous,” according to the Texas insects guide provided by Texas A&M. Being the most substantial spiders in existence, they measure about 1.5 inches in length.
Dive into the world of Texas tarantulas
There are 14 unique tarantula species known to inhabit Texas, as stated by the National Park Service. Distinguishing between them, though, is a task best left to the experts. Their dark brown head-thorax and legs contrast starkly with their brown-black abdomen.
In the vast Texan expanse, tarantulas are predominantly spotted in grasslands and semi-open terrains. They find refuge in burrows, natural holes under logs or rocks, crevices under tree bark, and abandoned rodent burrows.
Tarantula dwellings can occasionally be spotted by identifying web patterns with a few strands of silk on the ground outside their shelter, which help them sense approaching prey.
Tarantulas possess climbing abilities and often stay within their burrows, lying in wait for prey. They occasionally venture a few meters away.
Their diet comprises crickets, June beetles, ground beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas, and caterpillars.
Female tarantulas boast a longer lifespan than males and can lay between 100 to 1,000 eggs in a meticulously crafted hammock-like web. According to the NPS, Texas tarantulas prefer staying in their burrows. The eggs hatch within 45 to 60 days, according to Texas A&M’s guide.
Spiderlings come into the world around July or later in the year. After exiting the egg sac, they stay with their mother for approximately three to six days before initiating their own burrows.
Many become easy prey for other spiders or predators. Female tarantulas can live beyond 25 years, while males typically perish within three months post maturity, as per Texas A&M.
Should Texas tarantulas be feared?
“Every summer, Texas witnesses an extraordinary spider event that lasts a few weeks when male tarantulas roam apparently in search of females,” the Texas A&M guide explains. “This phenomenon, which remains largely a mystery, might be more related to migration than mating.”
The sight of these sizable, furry spiders in Texas during the summer can cause unease. While a tarantula bite can be painful due to their sharp fangs, they pose no harm to humans, and their venom is not hazardous. Tarantulas also use urticating hairs on their abdomen for defense, which can lead to eye or skin irritation.