A tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) rests on a wooden branch in its terrarium at the Museum of Man and Nature in Munich, Germany, September 5, 2014. The museum features a special exhibition ‘Faszination Spinnen’ (Fascination Spiders) which continues until September 14, 2014 and introduces visitors to the fascinating world of spiders by showcasing numours different species of spiders. (EPA/SVEN HOPPE)

There’s folklore: “When tarantulas crawl by day, rain will surely come.”

Residents of central California, who have witnessed a great emergence of these large spiders, hope this saying has legs.

“[A] big and beefy hairy prognosticator of weather has been on the move this month — tarantulas,” writes John Lindsey, weather columnist for the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “Judging by the number of emails and phone calls that I have received, the most in years!”

Lindsey quotes a reader, Donna Mathewson, who swears there is a correlation between tarantula abundance and forthcoming rain. “We have been keeping track of this activity for the past five or six years, and have noted surprising accuracy!,” she says.

As of September 16, the entire state of California faces drought conditions. 95 percent of the state is designated in severe drought or worse.


Latest Drought Monitor for California

Although it’s fun to think the activity of these eight-legged creatures portends future weather, like the Groundhog, the woolly caterpillar and other furry prognosticators, there’s no real scientific evidence demonstrating the behavior, characteristics or abundance of these animals have predictive power.

In a possible positive development for California rain prospects today, researchers at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society said borderline El Nino conditions have developed. The initiation of El Nino is a move in the right direction for enhanced rainfall in California this winter. But as weak El Nino events don’t always deliver generous rains, the Golden State needs to root for it to strengthen.