SHARON TWP. — A small group of hikers joined naturalist Mark Ludwig on an unseasonably hot and humid afternoon for the Spider Spot hike around the Wolf Creek Environmental Center wetlands Sunday.
“It has actually been a couple years since I have done the spiders program, I thought this is the perfect time of year,” Ludwig said as he began his prehike slideshow.
There are about 40,000 species of spiders worldwide, with 624 of those making their home in Ohio, he said.
Ludwig said the most common nature-related question he hears from park visitors is if there are poisonous spiders in the area.
“We do have venomous spiders in this area. Most of our spiders in this area, except there is one in Ohio that does not possess any venom, pretty much all our spiders, it is safe to say, are venomous. OK?” Ludwig said.
Ludwig said it is important to remember that a spider’s venom is not intended for humans, and out of the many venomous spiders in the United States, there are really only two that are considered dangerous: the black widow and the brown recluse.
Ludwig said the brown recluse is not native to the area, and the black widow is uncommon in Northeast Ohio.
The program then made its way outside to see spiders caught by Ludwig including a fishing spider, orb weaver and bold jumper spider, which features an incandescent green jaw.
Amy Van Scyoc said her son Hunter, 11, is home-schooled, and they attend a lot of learning programs offered by the Medina County Park District.
“He likes spiders and they are studying insects this year even though we learned that spiders aren’t actually insects,” she said during the hike. “We like anything outdoors and nature.”
The group stopped near a small pond to view a fishing spider caught earlier by Ludwig.
According to The Ohio Division of Wildlife, the common fishing spider can have a leg span of up to 4 inches and is one of the largest spiders in the state.
The spider is able to hunt for small fish and insects underwater, and can remain underwater for about 30 minutes, Ludwig said.
Brent Nichol, of Medina, said he decided to take his son Ryan, 7, to the spider-themed park hike.
“My son is always interested in spiders, he is like a big fan of the ‘Wild Kratts’ TV show that is on PBS,” Nichol said during the hike. “He is just always kind of into finding stuff. … When we saw that they had this going on I thought, ‘Well let’s go check it out.’”
Ludwig said the main message of the day is that spiders are nothing to fear, and are beneficial to the environment because they prey on unwanted pest insects.
“I was terrified of spiders most of my life and it was really when I started becoming a naturalist that I realized these things are nothing to fear and they should be appreciated,” he said.