Spiders in the Gillespie Museum

Spiders in the Gillespie Museum!
Red Widow (Latrodectus bishopi) found in Florida’s Ocala National Forest

Florida naturalist John Serrao will present “Our Amazing Arachnids—Florida’s Spiders and Their Kin,” at Stetson University’s Science Cafe, 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Gillespie Museum, 234 East Michigan Ave., on the DeLand campus.

“People are fascinated by spiders, scorpions and other arachnids, but not always in a positive way,” explains Serrao. “This slide program will dispel myths and misconceptions about these beneficial creatures and showcase the fabulous diversity of colors, shapes and sizes exhibited by Florida’s many species.”

In the slideshow and presentation, Serrao will show more than 65 species, ranging from tiny, silvery “dewdrop spiders” that loiter in the webs of big orb-weavers to steal unattended prey, to gigantic fishing spiders that can overpower and eat tree frogs, to all four species of Florida “widows.” Scorpions and their bizarre cousins, the whip scorpions and wind scorpions, will also be shown, as well as daddy-long-legs, ticks, and other relatives of spiders.

Serrao’s career has been devoted to studying nature and interpreting it for the public. He has worked as a free-lance naturalist in Pennsylvania and now in Florida. Many of his photos have been published in magazines, books and field guides. For this Science Café, he’s also bringing spiders to study. Just in time for Halloween.

The Gillespie Museum’s Science Cafés help to promote scientific literacy by encouraging relaxed, open conversations among scientists and nonscientists of all ages. “For these evenings, we take full advantage of the warmth and charm of the Gillespie Museum, offering light refreshments, informal seating, and an evening of thoughtful conversation,” says museum director, Karen Cole.

This event is free and open to the public, and offers cultural credit for Stetson undergraduates. For more information about this and other science programming, visit the Gillespie Museum’s website (www2.stetson.edu/other/gillespie) or call or e-mail (386.822.7330; [email protected]).