The Art of Darkness

Host a Spider Safari

November 14th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Jumping SpiderI found this a little late for those of us headed into “real” winter, but folks with mild winters and people in the other hemisphere can use it now; the rest of us can tuck it away as an idea for next spring.

I’ve mentioned Atlas Obscura, an online guide to “the world’s wondrous and curious places,” previously; but I didn’t know until recently that they also have a real-world arm called the Obscura Society. They host regional events to seek out, “secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities for our community to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us,” and one of their recent excursions was a spider safari in a California nature preserve.

We started the day with a little learning: Spider anatomy, spider sounds, spider molting, and finally spider sex. We also got to see an amazing video of the tiny jumping spider’s throaty mating song. After our lesson we headed into the hills and valleys of the preserve to see what we could find.

I think this is simply a brilliant idea, either as an activity for children or as an adult outing. It’s inexpensive (or free, if you go no further than your back yard or a local park), educational, and fun. Look online for field guides to spiders commonly found in your region, pack a lunch, and go spider-hunting. Once you start really looking for them, it’s surprising how abundant they are.

Admire their colors, watch them scurry around their webs, and marvel at their complex behavior. It’s a lovely excuse for a stroll, and a great way to spark an appreciation for arachnids in children (or in adults who are unenthusiastic about spiders).

Incidentally, I suspect that the video mentioned by the Obscura Society might have been this one. So adorable:

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