The state of Colorado is currently home to a mass migration of tarantulas seeking love. The state is experiencing tarantula mating season at the moment, so while all the people put out spider Halloween decorations, the spiders themselves are having their own Valentine’s Day. The mating season migration serves as a tourist attraction for some and a driver for people to move out of state for others.
The tarantulas are traveling across the plains of Colorado, just as they do every September and October, in search of a mate.
Each night in the fall season, male tarantulas trek anywhere from 20 to 100 meters seeking their mate. The female spiders burrow underground, and the males do a sort of dance to seek them out and attract them. The men will perform an arachnid ritual in which they tap out a rhythm with her legs. This is meant to entice the women out from the burrows. Once they succeed in attracting a mating partner, they mate, and then one of two things happens. The male will either then move on and find another mate, or the female will eat the male. Sometimes, there is a third possible outcome in which they both are eaten by outside predators.
Experts are referring to this tarantula activity as the “mategration” rather than a migration, given the specificity of the nature of the move. One city is taking advantage of this mategration and using it to attract tourists and make the time a grand event. About 100 miles outside of Colorado Springs lies La Junta. The city has dubbed itself the Tarantula Capital of the World. At this time of year, they have all kinds of arachnid inspired events, including tarantula parade floats, costume contests, face painting, t-shirt making, “human hairy leg contests,” eight-legged races, and more!
You can also venture on a “tarantula trek” with a local scientist. On these treks, you can see the proper way to hold a tarantula and get up close views of the spider. One these treks, they push the efforts of educating people on proper care for and around these creatures. The concept of “look but don’t touch” is discussed in heavy detail on these treks.