Looking for unknown spiders: Part One

Photo by Melissa Frey
Dr. Robb Bennett with aspirator, looking for spiders

Level 3

Some volunteers in B.C. were climbing mountains this summer.
Every day, these people turned over about two tonnes of rocks.
They were carefully looking for tiny living things.
Some of these things were about two mm long.
This job needed the eyes of experts.
And Dr. Robb Bennett is one of those experts.
Bennett knows everything there is to know about spiders.

What they find
Some days Bennett and other volunteers caught about 500 spiders.
Some of these spiders were new species.
The team quickly sucked the tiny creatures into glass tubes, like straws.
These tubes are called aspirators.
Then they blew the spiders into alcohol.
The volunteers then take these animals back to the lab.
All winter, they will look at them under microscopes.

Photo by Jeff Bolingbroke/© Parks Canada
Aspirator used for catching spiders

Photo by Melissa Frey
Dr. Robb Bennett with aspirator, looking for spiders

Why they are looking
Over half of Canada’s spiders live in B.C.
They are found just about anywhere on land or near water.
Dr. Robb Bennett is a Canadian spider expert.
He says there is a ten-year plan to write a new book about B.C. spiders.
For five years, the volunteers have searched for new spiders.
They drove from one end of B.C. to the other.
In August they worked near Revelstoke, Golden, Cranbrook and Fernie.

Missing B.C. spiders
There are many books about most animals in B.C.
There is not, however, much information about spiders and their kin.
Bennett and his team want to fill this gap.
He says there are about 800 spider species in B.C.
But he thinks there are about 200 unknown spider species.
Many of these spiders live in high places.