Lisa Krieger, one of our best writers, has begun penning a monthly column about nature and outdoor doings (topic for future discussion: Why is there never any interest in the nature indoors? Must be because it’s all bugs and bacteria). Her first topic: Tarantulas:
The Einsteins of the arthropod world, tarantulas possess huge brains compared with other spiders. And when harassed, they put on an impressive display, rising up on front legs while back legs scrape off a cloud of barbed, porcupine-like hairs from the abdomen. (Hence the bald butt.) They can even swim.
But contrary to their appearance, they are delicate beasts. They have lousy vision. They break, if dropped. They tend to lose legs. Their bite isn’t much worse than a bee sting. No one has ever died from a tarantula bite.
Sadly, the lusty wanderings of the male tarantulas are the beginning of their end. After a courtship dance and mating, males die within several weeks. Females, who may live another 25 years, are fierce guardians of their eggs. After several weeks, as many as 1,000 fuzzy youngsters emerge — then venture off on hikes of their own.
Judging from the contortions a couple of my co-workers were going into last night trying to find a non-revolting tarantula picture to put on a front-page promo to this story, folks are more likely to be scared to death by the fuzzy fiends.