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6:25am — The Tarantulas Are Coming

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Arachnophobia, anyone? Large, hairy spiders are on the march in eastern N.M.

It sounds like something from a bad B horror or sci-fi flick, but tarantulas are on the march in eastern New Mexico.

It's about this time every year that the male desert tarantula goes on the prowl for the perfect mate, crossing roads and fields in a mad dash to reproduce, the Clovis News Journal reports.

"They're basically pretty harmless," Edalane Sparks of Mac's Four Seasons Pest Control told the News Journal. "They'll mate, do their business, go on and disappear."

Sparks said she has seen tarantulas on the move from Conchas Lake to Tucumcari to mostly rural areas throughout Curry County, especially along roadsides, the News Journal reported.

"(Tarantulas) freak people out because they're big and black and hairy, but don't be afraid of them," Sparks told the paper. "Just don't bother them and they'll go away."

J.J. Driever, who works at the Curry County Extension Office, told the News Journal she moved to eastern New Mexico from Idaho last year and wasn't quite prepared for the sight of tarantulas crossing the road in front of her or marching down her driveway.

"They're in no hurry; they just walk real slow. Every night they're just crossing the road and heading somewhere," said Driver, who said the spiders began showing up about two weeks ago.

Longtime Grady resident Fairene Harper said she has seen the spiders every year she has lived in the village, the News Journal reported.

"They're not a detriment to anything," the 80-year-old Harper said with a laugh. "They're not going to hurt you but they might scare you half to death."

Harmless? Tarantulas do have fangs and venom, but they generally leave humans alone, and their bite is said to resemble a bee sting, but don't try to grab them, because they're quicker than they look and will vigorously defend themselves, the News Journal reports.

(Who would grab a tarantula anyway?)

Many tarantulas, however, are docile and will crawl up your arm (if you're so inclined), but some are high strung and will bare their fangs at their first contact with a human hand, the News Journal said.

Those with the most to fear from tarantulas, the paper says, are insects, smaller spiders, small lizards and anything they can reach.

And those heartsick males in search of a mate could get an unpleasant surprise, the News Journal said, since females often kill and eat the males after the mating is complete.