San Elijo Hills resident Janet Gidner made a shocking discovery on the steps outside her home.
“A 4-year-old neighbor encouraged me to come see the ‘big spider’ he found,” Gidner said.
That “big spider” turned out to be a tarantula.
“I screamed for my husband,” Gidner said.
Apparently this San Diegan is not alone. She said her neighbors have been seeing tarantulas, too.
“There’s definitely an increase of sightings around here,” she said.
Rick Ellis with R&D Pest Services said tarantulas are native to San Diego and common in open spaces.
“Every bug population peaks in the summertime, spiders because that’s also their food supply,” Ellis said.
San Diego County has a Web site that lists dangerous spiders in the region, but tarantulas aren’t mentioned. Ellis said there’s a reason for that.
“They’re really quite harmless. They’re big. They’re hairy. They freak people out, but they’re extremely unlikely to bite,” Ellis said.
“If they do bite, it’s a pretty bad bite. But it’s a bite. It’s nothing life-threatening.”
So what should people do if they see a tarantula?
“You can scoop it up in a dust plan and maybe get it back over the fence because that’s probably where it came from,” Ellis said.
No matter what, Ellis said don’t pick them up. Tarantulas have a circle of hair with small, barbed hooks that some people consider worse than a bite, he said.