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Educational Spider Encounter Event Crawls into McPherson

It sounds like an old-fashioned riddle: What has 10 eyes, 10 legs, and a huge smile?

The answer: A child holding a spider they discovered at “Spiders: Eight-Legged Gems on the Prairie” – a fun and interactive event coming to McPherson on June 10.

Dr. Dustin Wilgers, assistant professor of biology at McPherson College, will host this unique educational experience, which is focused on the misunderstood and sometimes feared creatures of spiders. Kids will learn hands-on about spider biology, the ways spiders have adapted to help them be active and thrive during the night, and the importance of their conservation.

At the start of the event, Dr. Wilgers will talk in general about spiders – which are a major focus of his research – and what to expect from the event. He will bring along live tarantulas and wolf spiders for the attendees to look at and even handle, if desired. After the introduction, kids will go on a night walk to find and catch wolf spiders.

Dr. Wilgers said that often just the kids start out with the headlamps, which are used to help spot the spiders as the light reflects from their eyes. Shortly after starting, however, the adults typically ask to borrow a headlamp from their child after hearing their excitement. All participants are encouraged to bring their own flashlight or headlamp. However, extra headlamps will be available.

“Spiders: Eight-Legged Gems on the Prairie” starts at the band shell in Lakeside Park in McPherson, Kan., starting at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. The event should last about two hours, including about one hour before dark, and one hour of collecting after sunset. This event is free and open to all ages.

This project is made possible through funding from the Chickadee Checkoff small grant program from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. For more information on this event and others around the state, check out the “8-Leg Education” Facebook page at