Warm weather amplifies tarantula mating season, but don’t fear these ‘gentle giants’

first_imgiStock(SAN FRANCISCO) — Tarantulas are coming out in droves in Northern California just in time for Halloween. But the gargantuan spiders aren’t nearly as spooky as they look.Warm weather in the region is encouraging male tarantulas to come out and mate, said Cameron Morrison, supervising state park peace officer for Mount Diablo State Park, where a large population of the spiders resides.The mating season at Mount Diablo typically begins the first week of September, but Morrison and other experts didn’t see large numbers of the spiders until this past weekend, he said.The females live in hillside burrows about the size of a nickel, and the males wander from burrow to burrow searching for a female seeking a mate, Morrison said.Morrison fears that in past years the park may have encouraged too many visitors, which he theorizes negatively affected tarantulas and their mating process. Ever since the number of hikes offered at the park has been scaled back, more tarantulas have appeared, he said.Although many are frightened of tarantulas because “they are big and they are hairy,” Morrison described them as “gentle giants.”Tarantulas aren’t aggressive, the experts said. Like most spiders, they have venom, but the venom is mild and not painful to humans, Jason Bond, a professor of entomology and aematology at the University of California Davis, told ABC News. Despite their relatively large fangs, in the unlikely event of a bite, Morrison said, it would be less severe than a bee sting.“They’re very reluctant to bite you,” Morrison said. “I’ve never had someone say that they were bitten by a tarantula.”Their main method of defense is the hairs on their backs, which can rub off and cause irritation, Morrison said. The hairs have tiny barbs on them, which feel like fine fiberglass and cause a reaction on the skin, Bond said. So, if an animal like a dog or coyote gets the hair in its nose, it will start to itch, Morrison said.“Otherwise, they’re generally sort of non-threatening,” Bond said, adding that they have poor eyesight.Paul Marek, an entomology professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who had a tarantula species named after him in 2016, even described them as the “puppies of the spider world.”In addition, Tarantulas are extremely delicate, and both Morrison and Bond recommended people should avoid handling them. Even a drop from two or three inches onto a hard surface could kill or severely injure a tarantula, causing their abdomen to burst.“The individual more likely to get injured when handling a tarantula is the tarantula,” Bond said.The tarantulas, as with all other living species, are protected at Mount Diablo State Park, and visitors are not allowed to disturb them, Morrison said.Tarantulas tend to be slow and move with purpose, unlike other spiders, which move more erratically, Morrison said.“If a spider is running, it just runs,” Morrison said. “A tarantula is much more tentative and moves it one direction, thinking about why it’s moving there, feeling each step a little more.”Females can live a whopping 25 years, while males usually live about six years. Once males reach maturity, they set off to mate and die soon after, Bond said.“They’re not returning home,” Morrison said. “That’s their final voyage, basically.”In contrast, regular spiders, or araneomorphae spiders, typically only live to about a year, sometimes two or three, Bond said.Tarantulas belong to a group of spiders called mygalomorphae spiders, which also include trapdoor spiders and funnel-web spiders, Bond said. These types are considered “primitive” because of their simple method for making silk for webs and due to their different respiratory systems, which use two pairs of book lungs, he added.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

NXT Recap 7/18/18

first_imgLacey Evans and Dakota Kai Rivalry Heating UpLast week, Lacey Evans confronted Dakota Kai backstage during an interview, kick-starting a rivalry that took another step Wedneday night. The two are very good in ring competitors, so it is no surprise that they put on a great show for the fans at Full Sail to open the night. Although Evans was able to pick up the victory, it seems that this rivalry could continue into Takeover: Brooklyn in a few weeks.New Matches Expected for Takeover: Brooklyn?Two new possibilities for the pay-per-view event could feature Kona Reeves taking on EC3 and Ricochet facing Adam Cole for the NXT North American Title. We saw a confrontation between Reeves and EC3 while EC3 was talking with fans and giving his merchandise to a lucky few. Ricochet cut a promo backstage calling out Cole after coming close to capturing the gold at Takeover: New Orleans and says the next time they meet the North American title will be his.Kassius Ohno ReturnsKassius Ohno returned Wednesday night after a month hiatus, and got back to his winning ways against Ramirez. The match was largely forgettable, but it put Ohno back over and will hopefully lead to him either getting a spot at Takeover: Brooklyn or maybe even a call up to the WWE in the near future.Kairi Sane Becomes Number One ContenderIn the main event, Nikki Cross, Candice LeRae, and Kairi Sane battled for the number one contender spot for the NXT Women’s Championship. The match featured three of the best young women in the WWE system and was a continued theme of the rise in quality within the women’s division in WWE. The match was back and forth, involving the crowd and becoming match of the night in the process. After a lengthy and captivating triple threat, Kairi Sane hit her InSane elbow and picked up the victory, punching her ticket to Takeover: Brooklyn.Please follow and like us:last_img read more

Lancers hold off Caseys after honoring fallen hero

first_img FARRAH MAFFAI St. John Vianney senior Cheri Wittlieb shoots over RBC’s Danielle Storz during the Lancers’ 45-42 home win on Friday night in Holmdel. What better way to pay tribute to the late, great Audrey Gomez than to beat Red Bank Catholic in a battle of the Shore’s two most prolific girls’ basketball programs? That was the task at hand for the St. John Vianney girls basketball team on Friday night as it played host to the Caseys, following an emotional tribute to the Shore Conference’s greatest girls basketball player. At 6 p.m. on Friday, the Lancers’ gymnasium in Holmdel was filled to capacity with high school basketball fans gathered to pay homage to a legend. When footage of Gomez, who was murdered in August, was shown on a big screen, it provided a somber reminder of what she accomplished while at St. John Vianney. She was the cornerstone of what has become the state’s elite girls basketball program. As more and more friends, teammates and fans have come forward in the last few months to share their memories of Gomez, it has become clear that her accomplishments on the court were never as breathtaking as her influence off it. She has been called the Shore’s Michael Jordan of girls basketball, a player whose talents were simply limitless and whose impact on the local hoops scene is still being felt nearly a decade since she left New Jersey to play at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and later at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. But it was the 28-year-old Audrey Gomez the person who was memorialized on Friday, and for everyone in attendance, the respectful ceremony should help to cement the many memories she provided over the course of both her brilliant career at SJV, and her brilliant life as a loving daughter, sister, teammate, friend and, for many of the current players, idol. When the ceremony had ended, it was up to the current Vianney players and their RBC counterparts to do their part to preserve what Gomez had helped create, namely one of the state’s greatest basketball rivalries. The Caseys came out firing, scoring the game’s first five points on baskets from Erin Cusmano and Alisa Kresge. RBC (7-2), who entered the game with a rare five-game winning streak over Vianney, showed early that it was there to win. Vianney answered back, and at the end of the first quarter the Lancers had jumped out to a 16-10 lead. By halftime that lead had jumped to 26-18, although Vianney was not playing with the crispness that head coach Nick Russo has seen from his team so far this year. In the third quarter, RBC closed the gap a bit with its aggressive play, although it didn’t reflect in the score, with Vianney outscoring RBC 13-12 to put the game at 39-30 entering the final quarter. The fourth quarter marked a return to the type of game we’ve come to expect from these teams. Some untimely problems at the free-throw stripe for Vianney allowed RBC to stick around, and when Kresge and Heather Westrol hit a pair of three-pointers in the game’s closing minutes, RBC found itself within striking distance, and was poised to steal the game from the 6-1 Lancers. On a night when Vianney’s scoring leader, Cheri Wittlieb, was struggling with her shot, a freshman point guard introduced herself to this storied rivalry with style, consistently making her way to the foul line where her four successful free throws helped ice the game. Shantel Brown’s flashy all-around play seemed fitting on this night, when the greatest of all St. John Vianney players had been memorialized. When it was over, the Lancers held on for a 45-42 win, and gave the home team fans something to cheer about. A night that began with tears in Holmdel ended in celebration. And St. John Vianney proved once again that it is among the state’s best teams — which is exactly where it’s been since the very first day Audrey Gomez stepped on the court in a Lancer uniform. By doug mckenzie Staff Writer last_img read more