To quote Sir Walter Scott, “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” In this case the deception I am referring to is that which has been forced upon us throughout our lives by books, movies, television, and our parents, namely that spiders are dangerous, poisonous, evil creatures who live life only to terrorize us. The truth about spiders is that out of the roughly 38,000 species of spiders in the world, only 27 are poisonous, and only two of those actually live in California. None of those poisonous species are at the Spider Pavilion exhibit at the Natural History Museum
When I spoke to Brent “The Bug Guy” Karner at the Spider Pavilion exhibit at the Natural History Museum, he told me that for the last 5 years they’ve been taking part in a California spider survey, in which they’ve found thousands of different species, many of which were not know to live here previously. Of course one of the poisonous spiders in that survey is the black widow, but the other will surprise you. According to Karner, there aren’t actually any Brown Recluse spiders in California, at least not in Southern California. There is another species, the you probably haven’t ever heard of, known as the Brown Widow.
The Spider Pavilion is an exhibit of Orb Weaver spiders which are famous for there magnificent webs. The spider from Charlotte’s Web was an Orb Weaver, most likely a Common Orb Weaver, like we have here in California. The exhibit has several of the California native Orb Weavers, which are they big hairy brown spiders you see in your garden, but most of the spiders are imported from New Orleans. Due to Katrina, there are less spiders than they had last year, but there are still plenty to see.
I should also mention that, although Brent let a spider crawl on his face, you’re not actually allowed to touch the spiders or their webs. The exhibit is sponsored by Wester Exterminators, but I was assured that at the end of the show they would not be filling up the spider tent with poisonous gas. The Spider Pavilion runs until November 5th, but as the spiders only live about a year, and they’ve already been around for 9 months or so, you’re better off going sooner rather than later.
The full gallery of my photos can be found here on eecue.com.