October is mating season! At least for tarantulas and goats in Joshua Tree.

I encountered an unsettlingly large tarantula marching across the patio a few days ago.... I pulled out my phone and filmed it (I couldn't handle getting too close), then set it to music on instagram: (click here to see the video)

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Then today I saw another post on Instagram from Desert Sun magazine, announcing that October is mating season for these guys, and the time you will most often see them out and about in Joshua Tree. I found more info on the National Park Service site:

When a male tarantula reaches sexual maturity, between eight and ten years of age, he begins a journey that will both aid the survival of his species and cost him his life. Should you observe a desert tarantula in Joshua Tree National Park this autumn, it is likely to be a male in search of a mate. The male follows the scent of a female tarantula to the receptive female's burrow, which she has typically excavated in dry, sandy soil and lined with silk webbing. Tarantulas are solitary animals; there is only one spider in this burrow. (sounds familiar)               To alert the female of his presence, the male taps one of his legs against the ground until the female emerges. The male must then participate in a dangerous mating dance, wherein he fends off the female, who wishes to devour him, by using hooks on his front legs. His death will give the female a needed boost of nutrition, as she must now produce 500 to 1,000 eggs and a silk cocoon where the eggs will be protected. Even if the male escapes being eaten by the female, he will still die within a few months. Females, on the other hand, often produce eggs for 25 years or more.

They also say a bite is no more dangerous than a bee sting to humans. Good thing I passed on the idea of taking it down - I never imagined the little guy was eight years old! It's also goat mating season - and mine are being as loud and obnoxious as ever.

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