A tarantula crossing a road caused a traffic accident in California’s Death Valley National Park that hospitalized one motorist and prompted warnings from park officials.
Two tourists from Switzerland braked sharply when they saw the arachnid walking across state Route 190 east of Towne Pass, a remote area almost 5,000 feet above sea level, on Saturday.
“A 24-year-old Canadian man on a motorcycle then crashed into the back of the Swiss couple’s rented camper van,” the National Park Service said in a statement.
An NPS ambulance took him to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump, Nevada.
“The spider walked away unscathed,” the NPS statement added.
Superintendent Mike Reynolds, the first NPS employee to reach the scene of the crash, said in the statement: “Please drive slowly, especially going down steep hills in the park. Our roads still have gravel patches due to flood damage, and wildlife of all sizes are out.”
The park service added that tarantulas are most commonly spotted in the fall, when the males leave their underground burrows to search for a mate.
The rewards for doing so are short-lived however: Females sometimes kill and eat males after mating. If they survive that ordeal, males only live for a few more months after mating, while females can live for 25 years.
The park service also stressed that tarantulas are not to be feared: Their “bite is reported to be similar to a bee sting, and is not deadly to humans,” it said.
The incident is just the latest mishap involving tourists and animals in America’s national parks this year.
In July, a 47-year-old woman from Phoenix suffered “significant injuries to her chest and abdomen” after being gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park.
Also in Yellowstone, staff had to kill a newborn bison in May after a visitor helped it cross a river, an apparent rescue effort that prompted the calf’s herd to reject the animal.
An 8-year-old child suffered minor injuries from a cougar attack in Olympic National Park in Washington state in July.