The large, hairy spiders are often depicted as dangerous. But Jim Mason, of the Great Plains Nature Center, says the spiders are generally docile. He says tarantulas rear up on their back legs when they are annoyed, giving plenty of warning to humans. Fatal tarantula bites are extremely rare, but the bites can be painful.
Hank Guarisco, a Lawrence-based arachnid researcher, says the breed of tarantulas common in Kansas is called Texas browns.
The tarantulas are especially common in the Red Hills near Medicine Lodge. The prairie and wooded hills of southeast Kansas, especially Chautauqua and Elk counties, have solid populations.