Get Ready, the Annual Southeastern Colorado "Tarantula Trek" is About to Begin!

Get Ready, the Annual Southeastern Colorado "Tarantula Trek" is About to Begin!

Pexels/Rejean Bisson

It's that time of year when thousands of hairy brown arachnids are about to begin their annual trek across southeastern Colorado in search of a mate. The event takes place each year in late August and lasts through October as adult tarantulas seek a partner to do the deed with.

Mating season for the Oklahoma Brown tarantula is between September and October when the temperatures begin to drop, and countless males of the species begin their search for romance. Starting at about dusk, tarantulas can march up to a mile across the Comanche National Grassland in their quest to reproduce.

Unfortunately for the fellas, the journey can be treacherous as they try to dodge passing motorists in their efforts to find "the one." Due to this, hundreds die each year in the name of love — or sex, if we're being practical.

The gals, on the other hand, have a relatively easy time of it as they burrow beneath the ground waiting for an appealing baby daddy to crawl along. When they do find an eligible bachelor in their version of The Dating Game, there's no real romance involved, like intricate dances with showy feathers on display as part of the warm-up. Apparently, there's no foreplay in their lexicon.

Instead, they'll come up and get busy without all the fanfare. But upon completion of the act, females do attempt to kill their partners and eat them. In what amounts to a fine How do you do, in roughly a third of the cases, they'll successfully nosh. Regardless, the males will be dead and gone by winter, anyway.

The annual migration is more akin to a creepy-crawly sci-fi flick than a romantic saga, but the sheer size of the bizarre spectacle draws scores of lookie-loos to the area to witness their journey. After all, an army of brown spiders marching along could give the impression of the ground or road moving like a massive furry blanket being drug across the landscape.

Also known as Texas Brown tarantulas, they do not pose a threat to humans. As to threats to them, tarantula advocates have teamed up with CDOT to explore the creation of spider safe-crossing routes that would include the possible building of tunnels beneath roadways to promote mating and stop the squishing of the males.

The annual trek's become such a draw that the town of La Junta, which gave the event its moniker, launched the first annual Tarantula Festival last year in 2022. If you'd like to see it for yourself, it's suggested that you bring a headlamp for viewing the plains after dark and, if you're camping, keep your tent zipped and check your footwear before putting your shoes or hiking boots back on.

Finally, as sort of an FYI, the phenomenon isn't limited to this part of the country. California's Sonoma County experiences the same thing at that time of year, as well as many other areas. They just don't have festivals to celebrate it. Check out the videos below.

Rebecca West

Rebecca is a writer and editor for both print and digital with a love for travel, history, archaeology, trivia, and architecture. Much of her writing has focused on human and animal health and welfare. A life-long pet owner, she has taken part in fostering dogs for military members during deployment and given many rescued and surrendered dogs the forever home they always wanted. Her two favorite canine quotes are, "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are," and "My dog rescued me."

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