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Romance is risky business for these Colorado tarantulas

As the tarantulas look for a mate, Visit La Junta will host the La Junta Tarantula Fest on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30.

LA JUNTA, Colo. — Finding a mate is risky business this time of the year for the Oklahoma brown tarantulas that populate southeastern Colorado.

In the late summer, thousands of male tarantulas scour the plains for a mate — provided they can safely cross the roads that stripe the Arkansas Valley.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said the breeding expedition happens every year in areas around La Junta and the Comanche National Grassland. It's not a migration, but just a quest for romance.

Female Oklahoma brown tarantulas can live up to 25 years. Once females make their burrows, they tend to stick close to them for the entirety of their lives.

The males live just a short time after reaching sexual maturity at age eight, hence their eager search for a mate.

"They're gonna be dead by Christmas," Colorado State University professor Whitney Cranshaw said in a 2015 9NEWS story. "Once they wander and mate and it gets cold, they don't make it." 

Despite their fearsome reputation, the tarantulas are largely harmless.

"They're not a dangerous spider. They don't have venom that would hurt people. They're not going to bite unless you physically grab them," Cranshaw said.

Cranshaw hopes that Coloradans will get to better know the spiders and fear them less.

"Americans are weirder about spiders than pretty much any place on the planet," Cranshaw said. "By a long shot."

Visit La Junta will host the La Junta Tarantula Fest on Friday, Sept. 29, and Sunday, Sept. 30.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Animals and Wildlife


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