It's Tarantula Season

By Matt Baume
|  Monday, Oct 4, 2010  |  Updated 1:52 PM PDT
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Burning Man 2010 in Pictures and Words

Not everyone is scared of tarantulas.

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Going for a hike? Watch out for extra legs!

It's tarantula season in California's wild areas, and this season has seen a bumper crop. As the weather grows cool, the male spiders will venture out to seek mates before their final curtain call.

The animals spend most of their life hidden away underground, only popping up to grab a passing bug for a quick meal. After a few years, they're ready to venture up into the light, hopefully for one last hurrah with a female before they expire. A tapping, leg-hooking, fang-blocking dance follows.

Of course, despite their shocking size, tarantulas are physically harmless. They're timid, and will run from human activity. Their primary defense mechanism are tiny hairs that irritate nasal cavities.

That's a far cry from the very real venom of brown recluse and black widow spiders, which have a much more unassuming appearance. But that hasn't stopped the spiders from spooking humans. In Colorado, they've halted football games and even construction projects.

Looking for a spider-sighting? For years, Mount Diablo has been recognized as prime territory. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to spot them -- or to avoid them.

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