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8:30am — Tarantulas on the March Again

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Those fearsome-looking males of the species are looking for love across the Four Corners.

Those hairy, scary-looking male tarantulas are on the move again across the Four Corners region, on and around the highways of northwestern New Mexico looking for love in all the wrong places, according to the Gallup Independent.

It's that time of year again, apparently, and here's what Albuquerque Journal videographer Troy Simpson had to show us about last year's Mad March of the Male Tarantulas. 

David B. Richman, curator of the Arthropod Museum at New Mexico State University, told the Independent that those tarantulas who are out and about this fall are newly mature males who have left their burrows in search of a mate and some of them may trek for miles in search of a female.

But once he finds his soul-mate, the male tarantula faces the challenge of mating without ending up as the female's lunch, Richman told the paper.

With hooks on the underside of his (eight) legs, the male holds the female far enough away to keep her from eating him — if he's lucky, Richman explained.

"It's a different world out there," Richman said of tarantula romance.

And even if the male manages to get away, he faces a couple of new threats, Richman told the Independent — November's coming cold weather and the arachnid's arch-enemy, the tarantula hawk wasp (New Mexico's state insect, by the way).

"This is their one shot at leaving progeny," said Richman, who explained that most males live for just three or four years, in contrast to females who can live for more than 20 years, the Independent said.

Despite their terrifying appearance, most Southwestern tarantulas rarely bite, and if they do, it's more like a bee sting, and most people don't suffer a serious reaction, the paper reported.

Mating seasons depend on the species, according to arachnologist Brent Hendrixson for the American Tarantula Society: In much of central and south Texas, it's in the spring; in portions of southern New Mexico and Arizona, it's in the summer; and the fall frenzy comes in the high plains of the Texas Panhandle and southeastern Colorado — as well as in the Four Corners. 

 

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