MT. DIABLO -- Starting this weekend and going through October, the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association and other local organizations offer guided, family-friendly treks to find tarantulas crawling the mountain looking for mates.

Although these large, furry spiders spend much of its time hidden in burrows, every autumn the male tarantulas emerge from their homes in search of a mate. A 19th Century scientific expedition described Mount Diablo's tarantulas as "attaining the size of a half-grown mouse, possessing fangs the size of a rattlesnake's, and delivering a bite generally considered fatal."

That last point, by the way, is not true.

Is this the gruesome truth or just arachnophobia? Time to find out.

"Tarantula Treks" are being held in three Saturdays, Sept. 6, Sept. 20 and Oct. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m., kicked off with a talk featuring eight-legged divas Mia and Scarlet before taking a slow two- to three-mile walk to find tarantulas, as well as scorpions, owls and bats in their natural environment. Bring water, snacks, camera, binoculars and dress for the weather. Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center; $6/car. Reservations required at sweettrails00@gmail.com or mtdiablohiker@aol.com.

Three-mile, two-hour hikes with naturalist Michael Marchiano in search of tarantulas are being held four other Saturdays -- Sept. 13, 14 and 20, and Oct. 11. For these "Arachnophobia or How I Learned to Love Tarantulas" hikes, bring water, snacks, camera, binoculars and dress for the weather. Mitchell Canyon Picnic Area; $6/car.


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Reservations required at Mount Diablo Interpretive Association.