A tarantula crossing the road in California’s Death Valley National Park caused an accident between international travelers after one of the visitors braked suddenly to avoid hitting the spider, parks officials said Sunday.
The accident happened on Saturday afternoon along CA-190 east of Towne Pass, the National Park Service (NPS) said.
A Swiss couple driving a rented camper van spotted the large spider in the roadway and slammed on the brakes, causing a 24-year-old Canadian motorcyclist to crash into the back of the van, officials said.
An NPS ambulance transported the motorcyclist to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump for treatment. No update on the 24-year-old’s condition was immediately available.
The tarantula, however, “walked away unscathed” from the accident, parks officials said.
NPS warned visitors to drive carefully on the roadways and be aware of the environment.
“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 are seen most often in the fall when males around 8 to 10 years old leave their underground burrows to search for a mate, NPS said. Mating season typically lasts from late September through early October.
After mating, female tarantulas sometimes kill and eat the male. Even if a male can escape, he often lives only a few more months, according to officials. Female, however, may live up to 25 years and mate multiple times.
Experts say tarantulas are slow moving and nonaggressive. The spiders are mostly harmless to humans but have bites that are reported to be like a bee sting and can cause an allergic reaction. They also have hairs that can be irritating to the eyes, mouth and nose.