Al Spoo honored by Lititz Garden Club

By on November 8, 2017


Naturist and author Al Spoo (front) with (back row, left to right) Bernie Alspach and Jack Hubley.

October 9 was a special day for Al Spoo, Rothsville native and self-taught naturalist. Members of the Lititz Garden Club honored Al with a drop-in reception at Moravian Manor where he is a resident.

Al spent his life learning and absorbing the natural world around him. He became proficient in the life cycles of moths and butterflies and could identify thousands of species of insects, birds, and native plants. He enjoyed propagating ferns and had many aquariums in his home, patiently waiting for them to grow from spores he collected.

Al lived in his 4½ acre Rothsville home all his life. He spent many years nurturing native flowers and building ponds to attract amphibians and water insects, and also as sources of drinking water for local birds.

In 1955, Al was the first winner of the Lancaster County Science Fair. His collection of mounted insects impressed the judges to honor him with first prize. During his collecting years, he amassed 23,000 mounted insects which were donated to F&M College.

Spoo had several books published. He not only did the research for the material in the books but also illustrated each one. “The Communal Bees and Wasps of the Atlantic States” was published in 2012. This is a resource for entomologists keeping track of the decline in the bee and wasp populations. “The Pearly Mussels of Pennsylvania” was published in 2008. Al illustrated all 66 species of freshwater mussels in the streams of Pennsylvania and described the numbers of each. This guide is used by ecologists studying the water quality of streams, which is so important today.

Spoo also had a bi-weekly column in The Lititz Record Express. Nature Notes were articles written and illustrated by him on subjects relating to plants, animals, and ecology.

Jack Hubley, a Lititz native and public advocate of the natural world, has claimed Al Spoo as his mentor and friend since he was a young boy. Jack took much of the knowledge passed down from Al to share with the public through television and written articles.

Al was a member of The Lititz Garden Club and was always willing to share his knowledge of plants and gardening hints to its members. Several times the club strolled through his property learning something new with every step. Those who know Al will always have fond memories of how he passed along the secrets of how to open eyes.

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