San Diego

Wet Winter, Mating Season Factors in San Diego Tarantula Sightings: Entomologist

Jim Berrian, a field entomologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum said several factors could be contributing to the sightings of the creepy crawlers in the suburbs of San Diego

Recent tarantula sightings in San Diego homes – including one arachnid found near a family’s microwave and another in a person’s shoe – are due to the time of year, and perhaps a side effect of the weather.

Jim Berrian, a field entomologist with the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park, said the critters are in the midst of mating season, meaning tarantulas are out and about, looking for a partner.

“It’s this time of the year when the boys are out looking for girlfriends,” he said. “That’s basically it. The males will migrate, looking for females to mate with. They’ll be all over the county doing that.”

Berrian said there are three different native species of tarantulas in San Diego County. They can be found in most areas, with the exception of beach communities. He said tarantulas are mostly nocturnal.

A few other factors, including the weather, may also be contributing to the rise of tarantula sightings.

“When it’s hot, they seek shelter,” Berrian explained. “When the daytime comes along they’ll look for shelter to get out of the Sun; that sort of thing. And your house is as good as any place.”

Berrian said San Diego’s wet winter increased insect populations, so tarantulas now have more available food sources. They may also be crawling around looking for that food.

The entomologist said the creatures can bite and are venomous.

“In the front of the head here, you have these two big lumps where they have the fangs underneath,” he explained, calmly holding one of the arachnids in his hands. “The venom that’s injected is fairly mild. You will hurt probably more from the big fangs ripping into your skin that anything else.”

But Berrian said there’s no need to be afraid of tarantulas. He certainly isn’t.

“They’re cute; they’re furry,” he said. “They’re interesting animals.”

If you encounter a tarantula and are nervous about it, Berrain said it’s best to not handle the critter and just let them go on their way.

Earlier this week, San Diego pest control officials confirmed the rise in tarantulas in the region but said it’s rare to find the critters inside homes.

Scripps Ranch resident Hannah Dafferner said she was shocked to find a tarantula in her kitchen. She was about to heat up a snack when she spotted the fuzzy critter sitting on a cabinet near the microwave.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. In fact, she thought her little sister was pulling a prank on her.

“I didn’t think it was real until it moved its leg,” she told NBC 7.

Dafferner said her family frequently opens the door to their home to let their dogs out. She thinks the creature crawled through their backyard and snuck into the kitchen that way.

Days before the sighting at Dafferner’s home, a resident a few miles north found a tarantula in his garage, taking up residence inside one of his shoes. He realized something wasn’t right when he tried to put on the shoe and his foot wouldn’t fit. When he reach in, he felt something fuzzy.

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