Friday, September 19, 2008

Along came a spider or a solifugea

20 years in AZ, I have never seen anything like this so I just had to show you the latest creature we found...
We live next to desert wash which is a great place to find dead fibery plants papermaking. However, living in the desert can involve interesting creatures occasionally wandering into our house. Gary called me over and asked me what kind of bug I thought this was. I counted the legs (8) and decided it was a spider. It looked rather dead so I told him to put it in a jar so I could get better look at it. He slid a card under it and then I saw a leg move....EEK!
After it was in the jar it started moving around like crazy! (thus the blurry photo) But yikes, I could have jumped on Gary's hand.

This creature has the same coloring as a scorpion so I looked it up online. Per wikipedia, this is a camel spider or wind scorpion. Solifugae is an order of Arachnida, containing more than 1,000 described species in about 140 genera. The name derives from Latin, and means those that flee from the sun. The order is also known by the names Solpugida, Solpugides, Solpugae, Galeodea and Mycetophorae. Solifugae are not true spiders, which are from a different order, Araneae. Like scorpions and harvestmen, they belong to a distinct arachnid order.Notice the suction cups under its body--helps him climb! It is a really interesting creature and it eats a lot of annoying things like termites and scorpions.
I released it in the desert wash--back to the wild (albeit--much farther away from our house). I read that they actually avoid the sun and that seemed to be true because it traversed over lots of rocks and sticks for quite a ways before heading into a shady thicket of brush and disappearing.