"We have the largest collection:" Professor's massive collection of spiders on display at UWGB
GREEN BAY -- Arachnophobes -- this may give you goosebumps!
A university professor in Green Bay spent much of his life trying to collect as many spiders as he could. Now, his massive collection is in a museum.
Tom Erdman is the curator of the UW-Green Bay Richter Museum.
"As far as spiders go, we now have the largest collection. When we finish up, (we have some more things coming in November), we'll have over 10,000 specimens," Erdman said.
The spider collection came from Dr. Jack Kaspar, a long-time professor at UW-Oshkosh and an avid spider collector.
"He had started collecting in the 1950s, late 40s, mainly in Wisconsin, so we have the whole long run of collecting in Wisconsin. We know where spiders started, when they first appeared here. We can look and see, 'well, here's a spider that isn't here anymore,'" Erdman said.
Before Dr. Kaspar passed away in December of 2015, he agreed to donate his collection to the Richter Museum.
Wisconsin's 400-plus spider species are all represented, as are thousands of spiders from around the world.
"So we have things from Indonesia. We have things from India. We have things from Africa that he's gone through, that students sent him," Erdman said.
Stored in ethanol to keep them fresh and flexible, the spiders will be used for research and teaching.
"We're the only institution in the system where the kids have that much hands on experience," Erdman said.
The Richter Museum is located at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The spider collection isn't usually open to the public, but group tours can be arranged.