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Gargantuan Tarantula
Gargantuan Tarantula

In all the years I’ve lived in Southern California, I’ve never run across a tarantula the size of my hand, and never in my backyard. Last week, while my husband was at our barbeque grilling, he called for me to come and see something. With a mischievous grin plastered on his face, my eyes followed it to his outstretched hand pointing the grilling tongs towards what I thought was a bat laying on the grass. The timing was right for the bats to begin their night flight, snatching insects for their feast, an entertaining activity to observe, if you are into that kind of thing. When I approached the object, I discovered it was a tarantula.-a very large tarantula, like the ones you see in the reptile section of a pet store. I have to admit, I have a bit of arachnophobia; truthfully, it’s more than a bit. I have suffered through countless nightmares where spiders creepily crawled out of the darkness to torment me. Which probably has little to do with the arachnids, and more to do with some psychological stress disorder my subconscious is trying to deal with.

Apprehensive, yet curious, I ran inside the house to collect my cell phone and then started taking photos as it scurried across the lawn with a purpose. I followed it to the dried creek bed then watched as it headed up the hill in search for a more secluded area, and away from the paparazzi.

The nice thing about cell phone photos is that you can send them out right away. I instantly sent the photo to my cousin, a reptile and spider appreciator, and he alerted me that the spider resembled the male California Ebony Tarantula. He added that along with his collection of reptiles, he also owns sixteen different species of tarantulas. Really?

Male tarantulas, I have learned, typically come out of hiding to seek females in the mo nth of September when the air cools down, but since this July has been cool, and humid, maybe he’s eager to get an early start. The male is solely responsible in finding a mate, and will search out burrows where the females leisurely hang out, waiting for them to entice a little romance, so to speak. However, once the deed is done, the female has been known to eat the male.

What a way to go.