Antelope Island is alive with spiders — until September

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah State Parks employee Justina Parsons-Bernstein mimics a male Peacock Spider during its mating dance at the Antelope Island Spider Fest 2019 at Antelope Island State Park, August 3, 2019. Spider Fest featured a day full of spider-themed presentations, crafts, guided walks, citizen science, poetry, photography, art and educational presentations about the arachnids on the island.

If you’re arachnophobic, read no further.

Spider enthusiasts and the curious gathered Saturday for a one-day festival at Antelope Island State Park, celebrating the arachnids’ crucial role in ecosystems on the desolate island on the Great Salt Lake.

Millions of spiders known as Western Spotted Orb Weavers inhabit the island west of Centerville this time of year, feasting on brine flies hatched in the lake’s salty waters. The quarter-sized crawlers typically lay their eggs and die by September.

The festival draws hundreds yearly.

The 2019 event included guided tours on the island, along with art and food vendors, costume contests, musical performances and poetry readings at the park’s amphitheater. Experts also gave a series of presentations on spider biology, web weaving and their role in the island’s food chain.