When I began teaching ‘Spider Biology’ at Cornell University forteen years ago, I knew that spiders were appealing animals with interesting biology and behavior, but I did not have a clue that spiders verge on the magical to so many people. My course, ‘Spider Biology: Life on a Silken Thread’*, has become quite popular, in part because I am an award winning teacher, but in large part because spiders and their relatives are so intrinsically fascinating. Spiders evoke a combination of interest, horror, and curiosity in people of all ages. Because there is so much intrinsic interest in spiders, they have turned out to be excellent creatures to use to entice children and adults into learning more natural history and biology. I have often thought of spiders as ‘hooks’ into science.
The goals of this web page are four fold:
- I want to provide reference information: how you can learn more about spiders. There is information about what you need to look for to identify spiders, lists of excellent books about spiders for adults and children, and good web sites on spider biology. The only way to learn more is by watching and reading good books about spiders — here is where you should start.
- I want to encourage teachers to incorporate spiders into their classrooms because kids LOVE them! I provide project ideas and lists of resources on how to do it. In addition, I describe my ‘Naturalist Outreach Program’, which could be developed anywhere to bring more college students into local classrooms.
- tarantulas are great pets for the science classroom or home. Here are my suggestions for keeping and purchasing tarantulas.
- I will provide some answers to frequently asked questions about spiders.
*For more information, check out Rayor’s Courses