Getting Up Close and Personal With Spiders

I have to be honest: I don’t really like spiders. They sorta give me the heebie-jeebies.

That said, I marvel at their work. In fact, not so long ago, the big explorer and I stood in our driveway in awe watching a spider weave its web on the hedge. It was breathtaking.

But I certainly wasn’t very eager to get up close and personal with free-range spiders at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles’ annual Spider Pavilion.

Until I mentioned the idea to a friend. She jumped at the chance to take our kids to see what she promised me was an awesome sight.

She wasn’t wrong. Visitors to the Spider Pavilion (which doubles as the Pavilion of Wings each spring) can walk through a comfortable, safe and immersive environment where spiders freely spin their spectacular webs for all to see. No glass enclosures here.

The good news is that none of the animals exhibited in the Spider Pavilion are dangerous to humans. Plus, the spiders are extremely reluctant to leave the silken webs they produce (at least, that’s what the web site promises!).

Note: I opted to leave the little explorer at home with dad for this adventure; roaming toddlers might unwittingly bump into and disturb the otherwise peaceful spiders.

OUR NOTES FROM THE FIELD
Before entering the Spider Pavilion, we checked out the web displays, which feature several types of spider webs (like cobwebs, orb webs and funnel webs) created with string. We also saw cases containing special rarely displayed specimens from the Museum’s living collections, including tarantulas and black widows.

All of this did not help my heebie-jeebies one bit. But the kids were pretty psyched.

Once we stepped inside the Pavilion, the spiders and their incredible webs were easy to spot. We followed along the dirt path gawking at all the critters we saw above and around us.

There were several lurking up high, their webs so transparent that they appeared to be floating in the air.

Perhaps they were waiting for a butterfly like this one to make its way into one of their webs. A Pavilion staff member confirmed that these beauties serve as live bait for the spiders, along with the grasshoppers that also call this place home.

And then there were those spiders that felt like they were right in front of your nose – they were on webs spread between the leaves of plants lining the pathway.

The big explorer found this one particularly intriguing, especially when a Pavilion staff member pointed out that it only has seven legs. Apparently it’s quite a survivor.

By the time we were finished touring the Pavilion – seeing new-to-us critters, amazingly delicate and detailed webs, and learning about the different spiders on display and their role in nature from staff members – I really came to appreciate the little guys.

If that isn’t encouragement enough for even the most squeamish among you to go, I don’t know what is.

PLANNING ESSENTIALS

  • The Spider Pavilion is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through November 7
  • Admission to the Pavilion is $3 for adults, $1 for kids (it’s free for members)
  • Tickets are sold in half-hour intervals throughout the day (last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m.)
  • No strollers are permitted within the Pavilion
  • A special flashlight tour of the Pavilion will be offered October 29 from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Check out my review of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for more details about touring the museum
  • Parking is $8 in Exposition Lot 3 (may be more if there’s a special event going on at the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)

How to make a backyard nature connection: Have you ever gone on a spider hunt to discover the different types of spiders living in your backyard or neighborhood? Dusk is the perfect time to find these creatures doing their thing – spinning webs and waiting for dinner.

This review is based on my family’s personal experience. I did not receive any compensation for sharing my opinions. If you have any questions, read my full disclosure policy.

Comments

  1. says

    @Roy: We, too, have way too many black widows for my taste. Tarantulas don&#39;t help my heebie-jeebies any!<br /><br />@Mel: Wow – no spiders? Maybe it&#39;s all the snowy, cold weather? Our resident spider remover (aka dad) also catches &amp; releases. I nearly cry every time I&#39;m &quot;forced&quot; to kill one.

  2. says

    For some reason we don&#39;t see a lot of spider webs around here. Growing up in Cali, there were a lot more. <br /><br />I kind of like spiders and have always been in charge of spider removal at my house–even as a kid. (You know I have to take them outside, I can&#39;t kill them).<br /><br />Glad you faced your fear! Sounds like a cool exhibit.

  3. says

    The tarantulas are out-in-force, here in south San Jose. They stay up in the hills, though – I have not see any in the residential neighborhoods (unlike black widows – plenty of those in the spring!).

  4. says

    @Cat: I admit the huge webs aren&#39;t just imposing — they&#39;re beautiful!<br /><br />@Clark: I hear you – my son was so encouraging as we entered the Pavilion, assuring me that it would be OK. I was proud. :)<br /><br />@Mel: Some day you&#39;ll have to take your boys on a spider hunt (around the house, perhaps!).

  5. says

    Very cool. And good for you. I dig spiders now, but when I was a kid I had a real irrational phobia. Spiders and (of all things) dragonflies.<br /><br />So I gotta hand it to my boys for showing nothing but curiosity and awe when it comes to all things invertebrate. They&#39;ll even move in carefully and closely to watch wasps pollinate our flowers. Our examples as adults do matter!

  6. says

    Sounds like a cool excursion! We are always bumping into those big orb weavers or into their webs at our place – sometimes their webs are enormous.

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