Spiders have long held a place in most people’s minds that can best be described as resulting from having poor public relations agents. Between the fewer than 1% that can harm people and their being cast in villainous roles, it’s been difficult to get folks to appreciate these wonderful critters. Thus, while spiders are inherently fascinating animals, fear of them keeps most people from ever getting to know about these little beasts whose numbers total about 45,000 species. (By way of comparison, that is over 4 times the number of bird species on earth.) A short but amazing “tour” of just a small number of species reveals adaptations without equal, unbelievable behaviors, dazzling designs, and even some indication of intelligence. Silk, venom, dining, romance…this group of misunderstood but spectacular creatures has it all!
About our Speaker: Zack Lemann was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and attended Duke University where he earned degrees in both History and Anthropology. He began working for the Audubon Nature Institute in 1992 and has been there ever since. A fascination with spiders had been with Zack since early childhood, and at the University of New Orleans, while taking coursework towards a biology master’s degree, he concentrated on research with an obscure family known as crevice weavers. His current role as Curator of Animal Collections for Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium permits him to engage in informal science talks with museum guests, collect spiders for the facility, develop exhibits and programming related to these animals, and of course respond to the ever-present queries from the public about these much-maligned arachnids.