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Citizen Scientists Sought for Spider Survey in the Santa Monica Mountains

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Photo by cordfish via Flickr
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It was thanks to the Spider Survey at the Natural History Museum that we know Brown Widows live in California. Before then, when it was discovered by a young student on a museum field trip in Torrance around 2001, there was no official record of it. The lesson of that discovery is that scientists can't be everywhere, but the public at-large can be.

Tomorrow at the National Park Service headquarters in Thousand Oaks, the museum's Jan Kempf will present a lecture on the survey's efforts in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. An update on Brown Widows and other spiders that are found on local hiking trails will be given, as well as how people can get involved with the project.

Although the black widow is common, its brown cousin's discovery "caused quite a bit of excitement," says Brent "The Bug Guy" Karner, who runs the museums' invertebrate collection. Brown widows are "potentially dangerous," but are "less inclined to bite than black widows," he said, emphasizing that there have been no deaths to spider bites in this country in four decades.