Maine has 677 different species of spiders, according to the newly-published Checklist of Maine Spiders.
Co-written by Daniel T. Jennings and Charlene P. Donahue, the list is the “first reasonably comprehensive checklist of spider families, genera and species” collected in Maine, according to the checklist’s introduction.
State officials announced its online publication on Monday. State Entomologist Allison Kanoti said the checklist is an important scientific advance.
“Most people don’t count spiders among their favorite creatures,” Kanoti said in a statement, “but spiders are an important part of our world, and we depend upon their existence.”
The checklist includes where and when the spiders were discovered and the name of the discoverer. Some discoveries date back to the year 1757.
Some 71,000 spiders were captured, mostly by Jennings.
The checklist’s senior author and a U.S. Forest Service research scientist, Jennings began identifying Maine’s spiders in 1976. He and other researchers searched all kinds of habitats in Maine’s 16 counties ― forests, blueberry and potato fields, bogs, gravel pits, backyards, mountaintops and coastal shorelines.
The researchers examined spiders donated by all kinds of sources, including University of Maine research projects, the Maine Forest Service and curious spider collectors.
The American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and the Canadian National Collection of Insects and Arachnids in Ottawa are among those that have the captured spiders in permanent collections.
Anyone who wants to find an undiscovered kind of spider can still do so. Undiscovered arachnids could include spiders that head north as the climate warms.
The list’s publication is likely bittersweet for those involved.
Jennings died in Garland on Sept. 14, as the publication was being finalized.