Best time to travel to California

Tarantula Migration in California

Watch a fascinating natural phenomenon in California's parks and deserts

Best time: September–October

Tarantula Migration
Tarantula Migration
A tarantula near Mount Hamilton, California
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Every fall, North American tarantulas can travel from a few inches up to a mile to find a mate. During September and October, you can observe large hairy spiders, known as brown tarantulas or Aphonopelma hentzi, on the trails, roads, and grassland from the bay area (Mount Diablo State Park) to Southern California.

Arachnids are often spotted in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, around Malibu Creek State Park and Topanga State Park in the Santa Monica range and Eaton Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Spiders love desert climate so you can find plenty near San Diego. Check Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Santa Ysabel Preserve, the Mojave Desert, and Joshua Tree National Park.

Tarantulas live most of their lives in burrows. Males stay there for seven to eight years until they reach adulthood. Then they leave their hideaways for just a few weeks to find a mate and unfortunately die shortly afterward. Females usually enjoy a longer life, staying in their burrows for about 2o years.

Practical info

What are tarantulas?

Tarantulas are arachnids of significant size with hair covering their body found in several regions of California. They make an appearance outside the burrows as males search for mates, typically between September and October. Surprisingly, tarantulas are quite harmless to humans and often shy away from them, making them fascinating creatures to witness! Show more

When is the best time to observe tarantulas in California?

To observe the tarantula migration, visiting between September and October would be ideal when males emerge from their burrows on a quest for a mate. This natural phenomenon can make the trip worth taking as witnessing large tarantulas moving outside their burrow can give an adrenaline rush! Not only that, but this season leads to an increase in tarantula sightings, both for tourists and locals, in California. Show more

Where can I observe tarantulas in California?

Tarantulas can be observed in multiple parks and deserts in California. Some of the popular locations include Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Mount Diablo State Park, Eaton Canyon, Malibu Creek State Park, and Topanga State Park, among others where tarantulas migrate and are safe to observe. Moreover, in places like Santa Ysabel Preserve and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, tarantula sightings occur more frequently. Show more

How long do tarantulas stay in burrows?

Male tarantulas hide in their burrows for about 7-8 years until their adulthood. Females, on the other hand, like to spend more time in their habitats, usually 20 years in their burrows. Male tarantulas live a short life compared to females and leave their hideaways for a brief period during the breeding season, after which they usually die due to exhaustion or any other cause. In contrast, females can mate more than once in their lifespan and live longer. Show more

Why do male tarantulas leave their burrows?

In search of a suitable mate, male tarantulas leave their burrows and move from place to place, traveling either inches or miles. Their movements outside the burrows increase and become more frequent during the breeding season, making them more active and visible to nature enthusiasts. Lamentably, the male tarantula dies soon after mating. On the other hand, female tarantulas wait in their burrows for the males to approach them. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen