One of nature’s most powerful tools, venom has the power to paralyze—and the potential to heal. Encounter a potent array of over a dozen venomous species in the Academy's all-new aquarium exhibit.

Now open!

Discover how often-feared yet biologically important animals like spiders, scorpions, jellyfish, and snakes sting, suck, bite, and stun while using venom to capture prey and provide deadly defense against predators. Plus, learn how scientists are studying venom to harness compounds that could hold the key to curing human diseases.

Lauren Esposito holding scorpion in Academy collections

Decode the venome

A single scorpion’s genome can code for over 200 unique kinds of venom! Academy arachnologist Dr. Lauren Esposito is researching the evolution of these venom-making genes—or the venome—to better understand how and where scorpions live on our planet.

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Virtual NightSchool graphic with moon jellies

NightSchool: Making Venom

What goes into the making of an exhibit full of fangs, stingers, and spines? Join Curator of Arachnology Lauren Esposito, Academy biologist Emma Kocina, and exhibit designer Ashley Boycher for a behind-the-scenes look into VenomNightSchool is intended for adults 21+.

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A fishing spider weaves its web

Spider sense

Fear not...unless you’re a frog. The venom of the Okefenokee fishing spider—one of over a dozen new species on exhibit—is not a threat to humans, but is lethal to its preferred prey like small fish and amphibians. Hear from Academy biologist Spencer Rennerfeldt on how she handles this impressive arachnid—and watch it in action.

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Bark scorpion fluoresces neon yellow under ultraviolet light

Scorpion vs. mouse

It might seem like an unfair fight, but the grasshopper mouse is a surprisingly formidable opponent to the bark scorpion, having developed resistance to its deadly venom. Academy arachnologist Lauren Esposito is studying the fascinating relationship between the two species, on exhibit side-by-side for the first time.

Photo ©2018 Day’s Edge Productions

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Lionfish shows off its coloration in new Venom exhibit at the Academy

Conspicuous colors

Many venomous species—like this lionfish—have evolved bright colors and bold patterns to ward off predators. Humans can use these warning signals to avoid a venomous rendezvous, keeping both them and the animal safe.

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A venomous velvet ant on display in new exhibit Venom at the Academy

Venom in velvet

While its red hairs might seem sinister, that’s not how a velvet ant delivers its toxic cocktail. Instead, the insect—which is actually a wingless female wasp—packs its punch in a paper-thin stinger. Can you spot the stinger on this striking imposter?

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Generously supported by The Herbst Foundation, Inc.