Wildlife tourism is very common, but it rarely includes spider-spotting — except in Colorado. Spider enthusiasts are increasingly traveling to the southern part of the state specifically to watch tarantulas during breeding season.
Visitors are flocking to Comanche National Grassland, Rocky Ford, and La Junta to catch a glimpse of the tarantulas, which are on the move in the fall while looking for a mate. In breeding season, tarantulas are easier to spot as the large males cross roads, walk trails, and even driveways looking for a female.
According Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Steve Keefer, they typically don’t survive their first mating season. “They use their fat reserves as they go [looking for a female],” he said, “and there is a lot of risk from predators because they stand out. Fox, coyote, bobcats and birds of prey will get them and the hawk wasp lays its eggs in the body of a tarantula.”
Some cities, like La Junta, actively encourage tarantula tourism to capitalize on the unique fascination. If you’re heading to Colorado to see the tarantulas, the city’s website advises you to choose a warm day without wind, go an hour before sunset, and check out Comanche National Grassland for ideal viewing.
And whatever you do, don’t bother them, touch them, or try to take one home as a souvenir.