It’s tarantula mating season on the Central Coast

Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-03 20:53:14-04

It’s that time of year again, the start of tarantula mating season.  
They have eight legs and eight eyes but they’re a lot less scary than they look. 
"Some people have arachnophobia but our species of tarantula is very mellow," said Dennis Sheridan of Los Osos.
He’s not one of those people that has arachnophobia. He’s an entomologist and has been studying tarantulas and other insects for years. 
"They’re very docile," Sheridan said. "You can’t grab them because they defend themselves but they can be picked up or moved off so some car won’t run over ’em."

From now through November, you may start seeing more tarantulas out and about. 
"In a single night I can go out to Santa Margarita or Pozo or anywhere or the Carrizo Plains and see eight or ten of these," Sheridan continued. 
That’s because it’s mating season. 

"It’s the males that are out, looking on the roads, out cruising for females. The females stay in their burrow and the males find them," Sheridan explained. 

Some of the females kill the males after mating. The ones that survive go back to their burrows and live just a few more months. The females raise the babies on their own and there could be hundreds of them. 
"You’re more likely to see them in the evenings like 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock. That’s probably when you’ll start seeing them come out, once it starts to get cooler, because the hottest part of the day is what? 4 o’clock in the afternoon?" said Rolland Felton, a tarantula enthusiast.
He showed us the underside of one of his tarantulas that has shed its skin. 
"It’s like getting a new set of clothing. They wear out their clothes in just every normal day life when they’re hunting," Sheridan said.
The fangs are what bite their prey but it’s not life or death for humans. It’s not poisonous. 
"It’s unpleasant. It’s like a bee sting," Sheridan concluded. 
Male tarantulas live only about three to four years while the females can live for more than 30 years.