Tarantulas and Whiskey

“Tarantulas were firmly believed to be lethal in the days of the Old West, so much so that it was thought that the only cure was whisky, which came to be known as ‘tarantula juice.’ The Indians, who tended to be excellent naturalists, had no such misconceptions about these spiders; but when the white man appeared they were quick to learn, and soon after they were introduced to this fiery drink more than one of them would take to carrying a spider around with him. At a suitable moment when he was surrounded by enough people he would surreptitiously take out his spider and screech and roll about as though he had just been bitten. Usually some kind soul would come and force a medicinal tot of whisky down his throat before he recovered sufficiently to stagger off to try his stunt elsewhere.”

—John Nichol, Bites and Stings: The World of Venomous Animals (1989)

In fall, male tarantulas roam the Santa Barbara County countryside in search of mates. It is sometimes called a tarantula migration due to the large number of individual spiders that can be seen crawling around. Figueroa Mountain Road in October is typically an excellent place and time to see tarantulas during their annual mating romp.

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