Science of Scary

Temple University Ambler EarthFest LogoTemple Ambler EarthFest Presents:
The Science of Scary

Welcome to the Science of Scary!

Some things in nature are just plain scary…or at least pretty icky. But just because something seems scary, doesn’t mean that it is!

Celebrate the fall season in a different way by learning about the science behind the things in nature that may scare you but serve an important role in their environment. Join Temple University Ambler EarthFest Presents  and our event partners online from now through November for the Science of Scary!

All animals and insects, no matter how creepy or crawly, serve an essential purpose in their ecosystems and increase biodiversity! Gain a deeper understanding of the wonders of nature and the amazing things that may be found right in your own backyard. 

Connect with the world around you by learning about animals and insects such as honeybees, arachnids, predatory birds, carnivorous plants, “monsters” of the deep, skunks and snakes. Learn about natural disasters and extreme weather such as earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and more! Like most of our creepy critters, this website is “living!” We will be adding new content to it throughout October and November, so check back often!

We are so glad you’re here! Welcome to the Science of Scary!

Insects and Arachnids

There is a definite "otherness" to insects and spiders. When looking at a tarantula, it’s huge and hairy and hard to tell where the face is. They can seem very alien to people and for some that triggers a fear response. With cockroaches, people equate them to dirtiness and trash and decay, but that’s their job — to get rid of decaying material. Insects are essential to our ecosystems. Without them, most ecosystems simply collapse. Learn More About Insects and Arachnids.

Birds of Prey and Mammals

“Birds aren’t scary!” Oh, really? Tell that to a rabbit or a squirrel or anyone who has tempted fate with a voracious flock of seagulls by taking a bucket of fries onto the beach at the Jersey shore! Birds can be unpredictable. Predatory birds are some of the most adept hunters in the world, mighty, majestic — and a little intimidating. Mammals run the gamut, from the smallest mouse to the largest elephant to the person you see in the mirror every day. Mammals are often the apex predators in their ecosystems. Learn More About Birds of Prey and Mammals.

Monsters of the Deep and Reptiles

Travel to the deepest depths of the ocean. Do you know what you’ll find there? Some of the most fascinating and bizarre creatures on Earth — some of them would give the things in nightmares, nightmares of their own! Back on dry land, there are about 10,000 species of reptiles roaming the Earth, from the tiny Jaragua lizard, to the largest, and longest, reticulated pythons. Learn More About Monsters of the Deep and Reptiles.

Weird World of Plants and Fungi

When you think of plants, the first adjective that comes to mind probably isn’t “scary.” But how about a plant that eats meat? Or a giant flower that smells like a dead body? How about a parasitic flower that has no body of its own? Or plant growths that look like something otherworldly is sure to hatch out of them at any moment? Did we mention a fungus that turns ants into zombies? The world of plants and fungi is freaky, fascinating and seriously weird. Learn More About Plants and Fungi.

Natural Disasters

We live on volatile planet. Tectonic plates continue to move. Volcanoes unpredictably erupt. Tornadoes touch down in unexpected, and even local, places. 2020 has been one of the most active hurricane seasons in history. Natural disasters are major adverse events, but they result from the natural processes of the Earth. Examples also include floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, storms, and other geologic processes. Learn More About Natural Disasters.  

Contests and Activities

Now it’s your turn! What creatures will you find in your own backyard? What creepy observations will you make that you can share with others? Or maybe you’ll make a scary critter of your own! There are so many fun activities you can engage in right at home. Be sure to enter our Naturally Scary Costume and Naturally Scary Pumpkin Carving contests too! Learn More About Contests and Activities!

Learn From Our Event Partners

We are only scratching the surface of what our event partners and content contributors have to share! From the iEcoLab to the Elmwood Park Zoo, from the Ambler Arboretum to Temple’s College of Science and Technology, there is a treasure trove of information about science, nature and the world around you! What will you discover? Learn More About Our Event Partners.

More to Explore

Let the Science of Scary online celebration be just the beginning of your journeys to discovery. Our event contributors provide a wonderful resource for information and educational activities. There are also numerous other online resources to help you engage in and explore the world around you. Now get out there and get exploring

Our Event Contributors

We couldn’t do this without the help of a lot of friends. We’d like to thank our event partners and content contributors, the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University; the Temple Ambler Field Station; the College of Science and Technology; Temple’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science; the Temple Biology Department, including iEcoLab and the Cordes Laboratory; the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs in the Tyler School of Art and Architecture; the Ambler Campus Office of Student Life; the Ambler Campus Library, the Elmwood Park Zoo, the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion; the Academy of Natural Sciences, Dr. Vincent Aloyo, Sarah Naughton; and Cindy Ahern and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research. Explore More