Tarantula Migration–Can they get in the car?



I lived in Roswell, NM, for about five years. I managed an HIV agency that served the southeastern quadrant of the state, 33,000 square miles, which was pretty impossible, with about 126 clients, so I did a lot of driving on little-traveled roads.
One night, driving home late, I was brought out of my usual driving stupor by catching sight of lots of small crawling things on the road. Tarantulas! I slowed but couldn’t help running over some of them and began to wonder if they could get into the car. What are they running from? Was it the end of the world? Would I be swarmed by them?
I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the annual tarantula migration. The males go in search, in mass, for female companionship. I couldn’t have imagined such a thing–except in a nightmare. I was horrified.
I later learned that a tarantula bite probably won’t kill you. I learned, too, that they’re gentle arachnids, nocturnal and shy, despite how scary they look.
I saw lots of other living things on the back roads I traveled–ring-tailed cats (just like out of Dr. Seuss), badger families, crowds of migrating jack rabbits lining the road, petite silver wolves, hawks, eagles–but I always remembered the tarantulas. Alone as I was, in the dark, being surrounded by lots of spiders (one of my worst fears), knowing I just had to get through it, wondering if it was a dream.
Lots of people think that part of NM is a wasteland, devoid of life, a desert. But it’s full of life, going about its business, searching for other like-minded partners, like we do.
What else don’t we know?

Photo from: rebeccamezoff.blogspot.com

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