Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center to host Spidermania program

Staff to debunk common misconceptions about spiders

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 23, 2017

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — At 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center will host all-ages educational programs centered around eight-legged arthropods.

Participants will view a live spider presentation and learn facts about spiders, such as basic spider biology and care instructions for keeping live spiders and other invertebrates as pets.

Megan English, associate nature interpreter at the nature center, said the program will focus on different species of spiders from around the world, as well as in Michigan.

“We’ll have lots of spider-related games and crafts to make it a fun spider bash,” English said.

She added that the program will help participants recognize how beneficial spiders are in the local ecosystem and debunk some common myths surrounding spiders so that people “aren’t terrified when they see a spider.”

“In Michigan, we only have one native species of spider that’s actually very hazardous to humans — (the northern black widow). (We also have) brown recluse (spiders), but (they) aren’t native,” English said.

If bitten by one of those two spiders, English said, what commonly happens is people experience flu-like symptoms and, if the bite is left untreated, the flesh around the bite will begin to decompose.

“The only species that we have all year-round at the nature center is we have an Indian ornamental tree spider that actually is pretty cool. He’s an old-world tarantula, and he’s very interesting,” English said. “We seasonally bring in other species, so I’m not sure what other species we will have at the program yet.”

Jim Gammiccia, program coordinator at the nature center, said the program takes places annually in October.

“It’s a great way for us to loop in the spiders with Halloween, but also give an educational opportunity for something that’s very centralized to our natural world,” Gammiccia said. “It’s a great opportunity to become more comfortable with spiders, because they shouldn’t be scary.”

The cost of the program is $3 for participants ages 4 and older, and staff highly encourages participants to register in advance for an accurate head count.

To register or for more information, call (586) 323-2478. The Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center is located at 4101 River Bends Drive, east of Ryan Road, between Auburn and 22 Mile roads.