Though many of us believe brown recluse spiders lurk in every crevice and unoccupied shoe, ready to chomp down at a moment’s notice, most evidence suggests it doesn’t happen that often. But who could blame us for feeling concerned? We may even be genetically predisposed to fear spiders. Our fear doesn’t bode well for spiders, who–regardless of whether they’re helpful or harmful–often find themselves at the wrong end of our shoe.

Fortunately, there’s a new citizen science project, Recluse or Not, that aims to help reveal what’s actually lurking in our crevices while at the same time clear the brown recluse’s bad rap.

If you think you see a brown recluse spider, snap a pic and tweet it to @RecluseOrNot. There, one of three entomological experts: Matt Bertone (@bertonemyia), Catherine Scott (@Cataranea), and Eleanor Spicer Rice (@VerdantEleanor) will take a look and let you know if you’ve got a brown recluse. If you do, let them know your location and they’ll record it to improve scientists’ understanding of where brown recluses are hanging out these days. There will be quizzes with prizes! There will be useful and interesting spider information! Something for everyone!

To celebrate, enjoy this handy how-to on safely catching and releasing spiders by Jamie Van Wart.

Please visit Catherine Scott’s awesome blog to learn more about the project.

By Roar.

Art by Jaime Van Wart who is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Los Angeles. Previously a User Experience Designer at IBM, Jaime recently graduated from CalArts with an MFA in Graphic Design and is currently working as an Art Director at Blind. See her work here and follow her on Twitter @meatballshorti.

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