Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Giant spider causes Death Valley motorcycle versus RV wreck

In Switzerland, the Giant House Spider (Eratigena atrica) may be the biggest arachnid around. With a leg span of up to three inches, it may explain why a camper van with Swiss travelers came to a quick halt in Death Valley National Park on October 28. Evidently the driver of the rented camper van spotted a tarantula crossing the road out front and hit the brakes. Tarantulas can have a leg span (when spread out) of up to 11 inches. The giant spider sighting and the braking reaction resulted in a motorcycle versus RV wreck.

Giant spider startles to create stack-up

The Sunday afternoon spider stack-up happened on CA-190 east of Towne Pass, Cal. On seeing the giant spider, the startled Swiss driver slammed the brakes on so swiftly that a 24-year-old Canadian man on a motorcycle then crashed into the back of the rented RV.

The spider? It walked away from the scene unharmed and, apparently, with no comment.

Tarantula factoids

“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 spend most of their long lives in underground burrows. People see them most often in the fall, when 8- to 10-year-old male tarantulas leave their burrows to search for a mate. The female sometimes kills and eats him after mating. Even if she doesn’t kill him, the male tarantula rarely lives more than a few more months. However, female tarantulas can live for 25 years, mating multiple times.

Tarantulas are slow moving and nonaggressive. A tarantula’s bite is reported to be similar to a bee sting, and is not deadly to humans. For the victim of the motorcycle wreck, who was transported to an area hospital, the stack-up was worse than the bite of a giant spider.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Bill (@guest_259517)
24 days ago

Urticating hairs are possessed by some arachnids (specifically tarantulas) and insects (most notably larvae of some butterflies and moths). The hairs have barbs which cause the hair to work its way into the skin of a vertebrate. They are therefore an effective defence against
To ward off potential predators, this arachnid will rub its hind legs against the abdomen to dislodge hairs into the air. Called urticating hairs, the structures have multiple barbs that help them puncture through ocular and other tissues causing blindness

Diane McGovern
24 days ago
Reply to  Bill

Yikes! Thanks for the info, Bill. Now I dislike spiders even more than before.😱 Have a good night. 😀 –Diane at

Neal Davis (@guest_259470)
24 days ago

They stopped short to avoid running over a … spider? Really? No way! Who would do that? Amazing. Simply amazing. 😲

Diane McGovern
24 days ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi, Neal. I can’t even stand to squish a teensy weensy spider, let alone an 11″ spider!🕷️😲 Take care. 😀 –Diane

Mikal H (@guest_259394)
24 days ago

If I had been driving the RV the spider would have fared far worse and the motorcyclist not at all.

I personally know several people who have been injured by slamming hard on the brakes or swerving to avoid wildlife and ended up having a worse accident. I will apply brakes for wildlife and come to a controlled stop, if necessary, but no slamming brakes or swerving.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_259358)
24 days ago

Years ago we were riding our ATV’s in NV and came across a few tarantulas crossing the road. We stopped and took a few pictures thinking it was a rare occurrence. A bit up the road (and over a small incline) we encountered what must have been hundreds of these nifty spiders. We sat there for almost 15 minutes to let them cross so we wouldn’t squish any of them. And more pictures too, of course.

Scott (@guest_260012)
21 days ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

creepy…I would not have enjoyed that spectacle

Ed K. (@guest_259323)
24 days ago

I Motorcycled since 1967 and always allowed extra room in front of me and the traffic ahead. The only accident I had on my Motorcycle was in the mid 80’s when someone ran the red light doing 50 in a 35. I am still feeling the pain from that careless teenager. I had to quit riding due to some unrelated medical issues in the 2000’s and still miss it. Obviously the Motorcyclist was following to close and not paying attention. I hope he wasn’t hurt to bad and will keep riding and learn a valuable lesson from his experience. I had a new Motorcycle with-in two weeks after my cast was removed.

Herman (@guest_259386)
24 days ago
Reply to  Ed K.

I feel for you! Sorry you also had to quit riding. I started riding in 1960 and survived two accidents that were not my fault (rear-enders) leaving me with a lifetime of minor back issues. Gave up riding in 1970; yet I still miss it, especially green with a little envy when passed by a motorcycle pulling a mini-trailer for camping that sure beats the tarp and blanket roll that I started out with. Now ‘riding’ a Class B. Hope you are still able to camp and enjoy the great outdoors.

wahooncx (@guest_259296)
24 days ago

Following to close?

Bob P (@guest_259413)
24 days ago
Reply to  wahooncx

Yes stupidity in both cases, the RV driver for slamming on the brakes and bike rider following to close. Started riding in 1973 took a break during child raising years restarted in 2015 after wife passed. Present wife loved riding but at our age she suggested maybe we should give it up. Still miss it everyday but it’s starting to subside. Lol

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