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It’s a hot tarantula summer: The spiders aren't dangerous; they're just looking for a mate

 Tarantulas in Central Texas are harmless for the most part.
Tracey Adams
Tarantulas in Central Texas are harmless for the most part.

Critters are having their moment in Texas. Worms, snakes and, now, tarantulas have all stepped into the proverbial spotlight lately.

You might see the hairy, eight-legged creatures out and about with you during this hot girl summer. And they might even have a similar goal: finding a mate.

"The males may have spent five to seven years living underground,” said David Moellendorf, a tarantula expert and store manager at Zookeeper Exotics. “But after sexual maturity, they molt their skin one last time and come out much sleeker and basically armed for business."

Tarantulas in Texas are harmless for the most part, he said. Few tarantulas in the U.S. are actually venomous.

“North American tarantulas have a very mild venom,” Moellendorf said. “When I've been bitten before, it feels about like a mild bee sting and, for the most part, the species that tend to be more toxic do not occur in the United States. They occur in places like Australia, Sri Lanka, Africa — places like that.”

If you see a tarantula out on the prowl, there's no need to be afraid. In fact, they can barely see you.

“They go out wandering and they're almost blind,” Moellendorf said.

Tarantulas can tell the difference between light and darkness, but they use nerves at the bottom of their feet to taste the ground and get around.

If your pet messes with a tarantula, though, bring it to the vet to make sure it doesn't have an allergic reaction. That might look like puffy eyes, itchiness or a rash.

Otherwise, leave the spider alone to find a boo.
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Haya Panjwani