Visiting Zion? Be on the lookout for lovelorn tarantulas

Visiting Zion? Be on the lookout for lovelorn tarantulas

(Avery Sloss, National Park Service)

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SPRINGDALE, Washington County — If you plan to be at Zion National Park over the next few months, take care of wandering male tarantulas in search of a mate.

Avery Sloss, a park guide with the National Park Service, said Zion has three species of tarantulas. August through October is the spiders' mating season, so the males go searching for a receptive female.

Sloss says the spiders are nocturnal and live in burrows most of their life.

Still, he said he's seen 10 to 20 of them every season, and in the last two days he's seen two.

Tarantulas get a bad rap in the movies, but they are actually quite docile. They can bite if harassed, so it is best to stay clear of them. Their venom is considered nontoxic to humans.

Their predators at Zion include foxes, bats, roadrunners and even a specialized wasp called the "tarantula hawk," according to the park's Facebook post on the spider.

If the male tarantula does find a mate, he risks getting eaten afterward.


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Amy Joi O'Donoghue
Amy Joi O’Donoghue is a reporter for the Utah InDepth team at the Deseret News with decades of expertise in land and environmental issues.


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