MT. DIABLO, Calif. (KGO) --It's tarantula mating season in the Bay Area, and that means hikers need to watch their step because the spiders are out there in numbers.
Employees at Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek are happy to have a dozen or so young people at the museum learning about the types of animals that usually make most people uncomfortable, like snakes and spiders -- tarantulas to be specific.
"Tarantulas are a lot larger than most spiders you're going to see in your backyard, but people should not be afraid of them," Lindsay Wildlife Museum's Dawn Manley said.
Manley is the curator of the live collection and an expert on North America's largest spider.
"Fall is their mating season and it's their normal time to come out," Manley said.
Mt. Diablo is loaded with the dark-brown, saucer-sized creatures.
They are an important part of the ecosystem. As natural predators, they help to keep the insect population down in balance and their need to dig holes helps to overturn soil.
This is the time of year that the mature 8 to 12-year-old males leave their foot-deep burrows to wander off in search of a female with whom to mate.
However, there is a smaller food supply this year due to the drought, so tarantulas have to move more quickly to find a mate.
"It's always fun to enjoy what the Earth has given to us," young hiker Jaden Wu said of tarantulas.
Wu said he doesn't know much about the spiders, but he's keeping his eyes open for them because he knows they live here.
"I know that they creep a lot of people out," Wu said.
If someone comes across a tarantula, they should stand and observe the animal because they're really cool when they're out and about.
Try not to get in its way. Let it do its business, let it find the mate that it needs and enjoy it for what it is.