They may be hairy and scary but tarantulas need your love, hikers told

Tarantulas may be hard to love - they are, after all, hairy, bitey spiders about the size of your hand. But they are misunderstood, say wildlife experts, who have asked hikers to spare a thought for them because mating season is approaching. The alert has been issued to walkers in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, where male tarantulas are beginning their long, dangerous quest to find love. If hikers come across a tarantula it will probably be a male, which are known to walk for days looking for a mate. They have fangs which carry poison, although their bite is not considered a serious threat to humans,

They’re the underdog. A lot of folks are intimidated by them or they have this fear toward them … They are really helpful for the environment and the ecosystems that we have around us

Ranger Razsa Cruz, with the U.S. National Park Service

The mating season will last until the end of October, the National Park Service said. That means the giant arachnids will spend the next two months weaving webs just above ground, outside the female’s burrow. Mating occurs when the male approaches the burrow and taps on the web strands outside the entrance. If the female is willing, she’ll come outside and receive his sperm, which he deposits on a web that she then receives and uses to fertilize her eggs. But it’s not necessarily good news for the male – females have been known to eat their mates if they linger too long after copulation. Those males that do get lucky usually die within months.