Spiders Are Everywhere

University of Richmond Globally Celebrates National Spider Day
March 4, 2019

Many people suffer from arachnophobia — the fear of spiders. The University of Richmond embraces its arachnophoria — the celebration of all things Spiders. 

As the only university with a Spider mascot, the Spiders are celebrating 10 days of Spider Pride beginning March 4 (Founder’s Day for the university) and culminating with National Spider Day on March 14.

On that day, 19 alumni regional groups will host National Spider Day celebrations in cities across America, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Richmond. International festivities will happen in London and Shanghai.

“Spider Day allows us to celebrate everything it means to be a part of the fantastic Spider web that is woven throughout Virginia and all corners of the world,” said UR President Ronald A. Crutcher.

While there are only 46,700 described spider species globally, arachnophoria is rampant worldwide. More than 49,000 University of Richmond Spiders live in the United States. California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia all have more than 1,000 Spiders. North Dakota has the fewest Spiders on record with only six. Internationally Spiders live in countries from A to Z. Eighteen spiders live in Australia, although only one lives in Zambia. 

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have live tarantulas as their mascots. Tarrant, a greenbottle blue tarantula, comes out for the men’s home games and Ginny Lew, a black and red female tarantula, is present at the women’s games.

Jennifer O’Donnell, manager of biological laboratories for UR, cares for Tarrant and Ginny Lew. She says spiders have distinctive behaviors. She knows by their stance, for example, when the tarantulas are hungry. Spiders also are great for pest control. “If we didn’t have any spiders in the world, the balance of insects to people would be unsustainable,” she said. 

Visitors to UR can look for the eight spider-related symbols located around campus. For those not able to visit, the images are shared on the alumni magazine’s webpage.

Although 10 Days of Spider Pride comes to a close on March 14, the University will continue to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Richmond Spider throughout 2019. To learn more about the origins of our mascot and how the University plans to celebrate all year long visit 125 Years of Spiders.