Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Bug's Perspective

The latest onslaught of rain in South Texas has not only made life  miserable for humans, it has also driven animals of all kinds into a frantic search for higher ground. While we are bitching about slogging around in the mud and getting the occasional drip in the coach some animals have been left homeless. We have been witnesses to the latest frenzy of sex starved male tarantulas who are searching for a mate. Tarantulas burrow instead of spinning a web, which is ideal most of the time in arid South Texas. When it rains, like it has recently, their burrows become a death trap. Yesterday we had dozens of the confused fellows running about, some as large as a dinner plate. Mother nature made the male tarantula for one purpose which is to procreate. Along with that responsibility the male tarantula also has a ticking clock, since they rarely live more than a week to ten days. The female, on the other hand, has been known to live for thirty years plus! They are also gentler than the male and can make great pets. Tarantulas have rarely been studied in depth and there are few scientists dedicated to getting to know them better. New species are discovered with some regularity. In some parts of the world consumption by humans and the pet industry have endangered the spider. Contrary to Hollywood depictions and myths the tarantula can only inflict a bite to us humans-sort of like a bee sting-and can emit a spray of microscopic hairs. The males are skittish (they have other things on their mind) and can be difficult to trap and handle. Both sexes can be calmed down by stroking it with a soft paint brush to the abdomen. If you choose to handle them be gentle and remember that they can be hurt by dropping them. Best to leave them alone, I think!

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