The American Tarantula Society annual conference wrapped up Sunday, July 25 at the Hilton El Conquistador in Oro Valley.

Group members, conference presenters and attendees descended on the town, along with hundreds of spiders, to discuss their shared passion for arachnids of all sorts.

Conference events included spider and other insect sales, desert field trips, cockroach races and numerous seminars and lectures.

American Tarantula Society President Wade Harrell led a discussion about effective use of spiders and other multi-legged creatures in educational settings like schools and daycares.

"Kids love to hear about gross things," Harrell said.

He provided information on the practical aspects of bringing large invertebrates into a school setting like the number and types to bring, keeping on a schedule and, perhaps most important, keeping track of the animals.

"If you want to not get asked back, lose a centipede," Harrell joked.

Organizers said about 100 paid attendees registered for various events at the conference. Many curious members of the public also attended conference events, where photos, books and live spiders were available for purchase.

"This is really the only time we can all get together," said member Ollie Meidinger. "The society has evolved primarily to Internet based."

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