While you wouldn’t catch your LA Travel Diva within an inch of a tarantula if she could help it, there are fearless folks out there (you know who you are), and kids (think Calvin and Hobbes) who would jump at the chance to take a tarantula-hunting hike.
Are you game? If so, the preservationist, Walnut Creek, California-based Save Mount Diablo organization is offering some creepy crawly autumn hikes in September and October. Perfect for a fall getaway, the guided treks begin in picturesque Walnut Creek, which is 363.8 miles from Los Angeles and about six hours away by car. You can also fly to San Francisco and rent a car.
While this type of trip won’t appeal to everyone, the folks who want to save the area are banking on enough interest in the this large and hairy arachnid that lies hidden in burrows until fall when the male tarantulas emerge from their homes in search of a mate.
Hikes are led by naturalist Michael Marchiano who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the species such as its size which can be as small as a fingernail to as big as a dinner plate (yipes). 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, tarantuals essentially harmless to humans.
Tarantulas can live for years and take two to five years to reach adulthood, but some species can take up to 10 years to reach full maturity. Upon reaching adulthood, males go in search of a female with which to mate. Female tarantulas have been known to reach 30 to 40 years of age, 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.
Save Mount Diablo’s mission is to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with protection of natural resources.
Patti Pietschmann's been plugged into the LA scene for years as author of Harper Collins' best selling ACCESS travel, former contributing editor to LA Magazine and various radio gigs. She has traveled the world with her husband Richard, on assignments and for personal pleasure, has enjoyed hundreds of cruises (she and Richard started young), eaten in restaurants around the globe, spa hopped, trekked, hiked and hit the ground running. The former Teen Editor of Newsday in New York, Patti was also a co-west coast editor of Departures Magazine, and a frequent contributor to such diverse media as Cruisecritic.com, LA Times, Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times, Virtuoso's Voyage, Luxurydomain.com, Bel-air Magazine, Priority Magazine, dozens of in-flight magazines, and more.