Tarantula Hunt

Ever since I started researching southeastern Colorado as a place to settle down, I’d come across references to the tarantula migration. I was so excited at the possibility of seeing masses of tarantulas wandering around, that I wrote the dates of the migration on my calendar for if/when I moved to the area.

Well, I did move here (been here six months!) This year’s tarantula migration has passed its peak, and so far I haven’t seen a single one of the creatures.

I’d heard that they were often sighted near the Comanche National Grasslands, so I set off on a quest to hunt for tarantulas. My plan was to go to Vogel Canyon in the grasslands for a hike, even though it’s much further than I would have liked to travel for what was to be a rather short walk. The thought of getting back on a trail, however, as well as the possibility of seeing tarantulas made me discount the distance.

I followed directions, turned off the highway onto the well-marked dirt road for the long drive to the canyon, and stopped. My vintage car runs well, but it is — as much as I hate to admit it — very old, and dirt/gravel roads shake up the poor thing. I always imagine one of those cartoon-like scenarios where I am driving along, and the sides and roof fall off the car. There I would sit in the seat, clutching my steering wheel, with the pieces of my car all around me. I have been assured by mechanics that such a thing would never happen, but I can’t take a chance, especially since I when I am on my own.

Disappointed (this was the third time I went searching for a place to hike only to be stymied by bad roads), I headed back home, keeping a watch for tarantulas. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single one.

As it turns out, “tarantula migration” is a misnomer. Tarantulas don’t migrate. They live in burrows, and when the nights turn cool at the end of summer, the males go in search of mates. The females stay home and hope for visitors. Or maybe they don’t hope. Maybe, like me, they are perfectly content to be alone. In fact, the hairy beasts aren’t even tarantulas. True tarantulas, apparently, are small wolf spiders that live near Taranto in Southern Italy, hence the name. What we call tarantulas are bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids.

Despite the name “tarantula migration” being doubly wrong, my intent was still the same — to see the so-called migration of the so-called tarantula.

Although I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, it wasn’t a wasted trip. It was a beautiful almost-fall day, the drive was pleasant, I saw an area I hadn’t yet visited, and I got a photo of the hills that the canyon hides behind.

Still, as adventures go, this was a rather tepid endeavor.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

11 Responses to “Tarantula Hunt”

  1. Alien Resort Says:

    I’ve heard that tarantulae will jump at you.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    If you go walking at night, you might run into one. The same YouTube channel that told me about tarantula hawks has also done episodes on tarantulas in the wild. I could send you the video, so long as you promise not to pick one of the little monsters up.

  3. Sam Sattler Says:

    We came out of church one day when I was about five and I remember getting into the back seat only to find one of those big guys sitting on the other end of the seat. I freaked and jumped out of the car screaming. To this day, I have an aversion to spider-sightings and I blame it all on that one experience. As I remember it (in my mind, of course) that guy was almost as big as me. LOL

  4. Judy Galyon Says:

    You are a brave & curious lady to want to go in search of those critters. I do not care or any type of spider.

  5. Gottfried Says:

    Spiders are a nightmare

  6. mickeyhoffman Says:

    My skin is crawling now, thanks a bunch. Just kidding, but I don’t like spiders and I don’t like insects either.

  7. On A Streak! | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] possible, since the weather is still relatively warm, that these bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids are still cozy in their burrows and not ready to face what they might consider a human migration […]


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