Join us for a nature walk through Mitchell Canyon and we will dispel any malicious rumors you might have heard about Mount Diablo's misunderstood eight-legged creatures. A scientist exploring California in the 1860s described Mount Diablo's tarantulas as "attaining the size of a half-grown mouse, possessing fangs the size of a rattlesnake's, and delivering a bite generally considered fatal." Yeesh. Is this the gruesome truth or just arachnophobia? Bring water, and dress in layers. Shorts or long pants are fine, and please wear comfortable walking shoes. We will start with a 30min presentation followed by a 2 hour hike. The distance is about 2 miles. We will be looking for the male tarantulas as they search for their mates.
Tarantulas' sizes range from as small as a fingernail to as big as a salad plate. Tarantulas are carnivores. They eat a wide variety of insects, especially larger ones such as crickets and grasshoppers, June beetles, cicadas and caterpillars. Legend and lore paints them as much more dangerous and frightening than they really are. In fact, they're essentially harmless to humans. The hikes, led by naturalists, travel over moderate terrain, during which hikers will learn to identify Tarantula burrows and site Tarantulas along the way.
Tarantulas may live for years - most species take two to five years to reach adulthood, but some species may take up to 10 years to reach full maturity. Upon reaching adulthood, males typically have a one to one-and-a-half year period left to live and will immediately go in search of a female with which to mate. After mating the male will die of hunger or exposure, never returning to its burrow. Female Tarantulas have been known to reach 20-25 years in their burrows, and have survived on water alone for up to two years. All Tarantulas are venomous, but only some species have venom that, while not known to have ever produced human fatalities, can produce extreme discomfort over a period of several days.
The Tarantula treks are a fascinating way to enjoy these creatures on magnificent Mount Diablo, while respecting their space and habitat.