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Arachnophilia A Passion for Spiders

"Spiders evoke a combination of fear and fascination, curiosity and horror, yet are actually stunningly diverse creatures capable of amazing feats and remarkable beauty."

– Dr. Linda Rayor, Department of Entomology, Cornell University

Come in, said the spider to the fly.

Viewed without bias, spiders are gorgeous and fascinating animals. Many are painted from a palette of brilliant hues to attract females, deter potential predators, or to better blend into their habitat. Most spiders are solitary, but there are also colonies of thousands of spiders that cooperate to fight off invaders and to capture prey that they share with each other and their young. Webs are delicate architectural masterpieces that are amazingly strong and stretchy. There are microscopic spiders that use silk like kites to float across the landscape. Only a few spiders are dangerous to humans, but their amazing venoms are being used to treat human diseases and reduce pain. Come learn more about these amazing creatures and perhaps you'll find a little love for them after all.

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Tarantula vs. Wasp

Tarantula vs. Wasp

An epic battle ensues when a tarantula hawk wasp encounters a tarantula. In this merciless conflict, the wasp tries to paralyze the tarantula by stinging her underside, while the tarantula fights for her life by raising her cephalothorax and legs high in the air so that she can strike at the wasp most effectively. They circle one another, as the wasp feints trying to break through her defenses. If the wasp succeeds in paralyzing the spider, she drags it to a burrow, lays a single egg on the spider and seals up the entrance. The wasp larvae hatches from the egg and slowly devours the helpless tarantula alive, eating the non-essential organs first.


Text and Design: Linda Rayor and Jenny Leijonhufvud

Reproduction of any and all content in this online exhibit is allowed only by express permission of Linda Rayor.

Comments or questions: mann-public-ed-prog@cornell.edu

Mann Library gratefully acknowledges the Bondareff Family Fund and its support of exhibits at Mann Library.