Remember the old Jim Stafford song that began with the line “I don’t like spiders and snakes….”? Well snakes don’t bother me at all; in fact I go with a couple guys rattlesnake hunting here in Kansas when I get the chance. And I’m not really scared of spiders either, but I don’t like them much. My wife has compiled a list of questions she wants to ask God someday, and most of them have to do with bugs.
For example, she wants to ask Him the purpose of flies, ticks and mosquitoes, and I’m quite sure spiders will make the list also. If that’s your feeling about spiders as well, there are some workshops coming up around the state you might want to consider attending.
During July and August, Dustin Wilgers, PhD. From the Dept. of Natural Sciences at McPherson College will be hosting interactive evening workshops to teach kids and adults about Kansas spiders. Attendees will learn about spider biology, adaptation and the importance of spider conservation. There will be opportunities to see and to handle live spiders, and each workshop will conclude with a night-walk to find and catch wolf spiders. I’m not totally certain what “spider conservation” is, but I can only guess it means not squishing them, which takes some discipline.
In his workshops Dr. Wilgers discusses all spiders found in Kansas, but the wolf spider seems to be the star of the show, so without taking much of his thunder let me offer a few small pieces of wolf spider trivia. Wolf spiders have 8 eyes arranged in 3 different rows on their heads, and rely on their excellent eyesight when hunting. It seems that if they look at you, their eyes even reflect in the beam of a flashlight, which explains why workshop participants will be hunting them after dark. They don’t spin webs so you’ll usually see them scurrying across the ground. Their bodies are covered in course hairs, giving them a fierce sort of appearance. I suppose the best reason for practicing “spider conservation” where wolf spiders are concerned is because of the vast number of insects they eat, including crickets and cockroaches, and as far as I’m concerned there is no downside to fewer crickets and cockroaches. I worked for 10 years as a shop supervisor at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, and I remember the inmates in our shop catching big wolf spiders in the fall and keeping them in clear plastic food containers they’d dig from the trash. Every morning they would pop open the container long enough to toss in some crickets they would catch on the way to work.
The workshops are free and to see times and places for the workshops go to the Wildlife and Parks website ksoutdoors.com or email Dr. Wilgers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spider conservation equals fewer crickets and roaches; yet another reason to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
photo credit – gidovd