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Death Valley Traffic Collision Caused by a Tarantula

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Traffic collision caused by a tarantula

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Swiss travelers braked suddenly to avoid hitting a tarantula crossing CA-190 east of Towne Pass in Death Valley National Park on the afternoon of October 28. A 24-year-old Canadian man on a motorcycle then crashed into the back of the Swiss couple’s rented camper van.

A National Park Service (NPS) ambulance transported the motorcyclist to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump.

The spider walked away unscathed.

“Please drive slowly, especially going down steep hills in the park,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds, who was the first NPS employee on scene at the accident. “Our roads still have gravel patches due to flood damage, and wildlife of all sizes are out.”

Tarantulas spend most of their long lives in underground burrows. People see them most often in the fall, when 8- to 10-year-old male tarantulas leave their burrows to search for a mate.  The female sometimes kills and eats him after mating. Even if she doesn’t kill him, the male tarantula rarely lives more than a few more months. However, female tarantulas can live for 25 years, mating multiple times.

Tarantulas are slow moving and nonaggressive. A tarantula’s bite is reported to be similar to a bee sting, and is not deadly to humans.

tarantula death valley
A tarantula seen elsewhere in Death Valley National Park on the day of the accident. NPS photo by Abby Wines


Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at www.nps.gov/deva.  

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