Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


Tarantula mating season is here and males are crawling all over parts of San Diego

It's tarantula mating season in San Diego. Residents may see more of the crawling creatures, especially in East County.

"Males are just on the hunt for love," said Matt Thomas, CEO of Pet Kingdom in the Midway area. "They’re trying to breed and find females ... This year has been a little bit more active than previous years."

Thomas said California's Black Tarantula and Bronze Tarantula's will mate through October, something that happens every year around this time. It means males are out actively looking for mates and may stumble into garages or homes along the way. Thomas has already seen a lot around his home in Alpine.


"My neighbors on the Nextdoor app — everyone’s freaking out, (they're) in their kitchens and we’ll go and remove them," Thomas said. "In East county it’s real prevalent right now."

Thomas said the desert areas will also see a lot of the spiders. Pet stores are not allowed to sell native species, he was holding a Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula while talking to KPBS Wednesday.

A Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula sits in the hand of Pet Kingdom CEO Matt Thomas' hand, August 23, 2023.
A Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula sits in the hand of Pet Kingdom CEO Matt Thomas' hand, August 23, 2023.

"We just strongly recommend there’s no real need to kill the animal," Thomas said. "So just relocating it, it’s going to move on. It’s not in your house trying to feed off you or your pets or anything like that."

Tarantulas are an important part of the local ecosystem. Even though venomous, Thomas said they are relatively tame.

"If you were to get bit by one it’s just — you’ll have some local swelling — maybe a little redness but that’s about it," he said. "There’s nothing to fear, especially with our native ones, they’re sweetheart bugs. I’ve probably handled 1,000 since I was a kid just picking them up."


Tarantulas can get defensive if provoked, but Thomas urges residents to be patient if trying to remove one.

"If you do see those front legs come up they arch back — just give them a second to kind of relax," Thomas said. "They’ll stop freaking out and you can get them in a cup. Dustpan is probably the easiest thing to do."

Thomas said tarantulas are popular pets because they are low maintenance. Native species aside, other varieties of tarantulas can run anywhere from $25 to more than $200.

The San Diego Natural History Museum's website encourages residents not to handle them. Tarantulas have barbed hairs that can be ejected if the spider feels threatened. The museum also notes the bite from a California Black Tarantula is, "painful, but not dangerous."