My name is Amy Bianco and I consider myself a “spiderologist”. I had to have been about 4 years old when I had my first spider experience. I was playing by myself in the basement of my family’s home in Pittsburgh. A cobweb weaver had taken residence underneath the hot water tank. It was minding its own business in its web, solitary and motionless, but I noticed it and my curiosity took over. I recall cautiously reaching my finger towards it, wanting to see what would happen if I touched it (yes, very daring, I know). My finger bumped some of the silk strands of the spider’s web and the spider immediately reacted by jetting as fast as it could into the dark underbelly of the hot water tank. I just as quickly recoiled surprised at the spider’s sudden, quick movement. With the spider gone, I resumed playing and later noticed the shy spider had returned to sight. This time, I didn’t poke at her and she became my basement buddy, “hanging out” with me as I played. I probably named and talked to her, too. At some point (my spider-fearing mom could probably tell you EXACTLY when), I began capturing spiders using pickle jars as terrariums with grass as substrate. I read every book I could get my hands on. I learned by reading and observing the habits, life cycles, and classification of spiders. Eventually, I became more successful rearing spiders that I would catch around the house, woods, parks, wherever. The more I learned about them, the hungrier I became for knowledge! Spiders have been my hobby for over 30 years now! I love sharing my discoveries with other people!
Organizations I’ve partnered with: PGH Parks Conservancy, McKeever Environmental Center, the Outdoor Classroom, Audubon Society of Western PA, and the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators, Community Day School, Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Environmental Charter School at Frick Park.
I’ve taught two semesters of Exploratory classes at the Environmental Charter School with 7th and 8th grade students on the topic of spiders and arachnids in general and hosted community workshops about spider identification and biology at CCAC. I was the spider taxa leader for Mount Washington Bioblitz 2014 and the Chartiers Watershed Bioblitz 2017, both super fun times!
I have a certificate from Ohio State University for 50 contact hours in Spider Biology taught by the great Dr. Richard Bradley. I’m a proud member of the American Arachnological Society.
What is Spidermentor? video
October 2022 PGH City Paper article (uncensored)