Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The thing about arthropods is...

(Image courtesy of google)
I'm not a huge fan. I know, I know, I work at a museum of natural history, and nature includes arthropods, and insects of all kinds... but that doesn't mean I have to like them....right?
For instance, we have a bunch these at the museum...(I'm guessing one just isn't enough)

This is called a Black Pinacate Beetle (Eleodes armata)... aka the "Stinkbug". This delightful creature got it's nickname because emits a foul smelling chemical from the base of it's abdomen in order to ward off would be predators. We have a whole bunch of them in a glass tank in our Primal Desert Next Door exhibit. One of our paleontologists takes care of them. He thinks they're neat. I beg to differ.

I'm new to Arizona, and apparently it's no secret to you native Arizonians that this state is filled with all kinds of creepy crawlies, and things that go bump in the night. How did I miss this incredibly important bit of information when I decided to up and move here? 

Here's a few additions to the list of things I have encountered since my arrival that totally gross me out. And by the way, because this is Arizona and not, say, Massachusetts... this list is exponential and already includes my initial and horrific introduction to "Palmetto" bugs ( and by "Palmetto", I mean big, giant, cat sized, cockroaches that eat children and puppies), Scorpions, and Fire Ants....all of which horrify me beyond words. I can't even talk about them with out weeping uncontrollably.

Here's a lovely little (see huge) fellow that my husband found back in July...
 (Image courtesy of google)
This is a Palo Verde Borer Beetle (Derobrachus geminatus) or "Giant Freak of a Gross Bug". It lives under ground as larvae, eating the roots of trees. Then it surfaces in the summer... God only knows why. They can grow to be up to six inches long, but that's not the worst part... The worst part is... they fly...(((shudder))).

Here's another special little friend. I found one of these outside of my garage door a few months back. I almost swallowed my tongue...
(Image courtesy of google)
This is an Arizona Crab Spider (Olios Giganteus) or "Holy Gigantic Spider...AHHHH!!" This thing is just flat out vomit inducing. Thankfully, it was already dead when I saw it. I'm not sure why it was dead, but I hope I never run into the thing that killed it, because it must have been HUGE. 

Here's some video footage I found on youtube to give you an idea of exactly how big this horrible creature really is. The owner of this video has identified this creature as a "wolf" spider...but then labeled it as a "crab" spider. Doesn't matter...same size. 

This is not something I want crawling on my wall while I'm sleeping... or much, MUCH worse... on my face. The mere thought of that makes my whole body cringe. It's not a pleasant feeling.

Next item on the menu in this cocoon of horror....

The Black Widow (Lactrodectus Hesperus) or "Big, heinous, black, leggy, bug". Ain't she a gem...? (that was rhetorical). We found one of these building a web in the eaves right outside the front door. To put things in perspective...this nasty-butted creature is about the size of  a half dollar...well, maybe slightly smaller than that... between a quarter and a half dollar... That's about three dimes too big in my book. The thing about the black widow is, she's poisonous. Not like Bark Scorpion poisonous... more like, "Get your heiny to a hospital before you lose a limb, or possibly expire" poisonous. In other words, she's a fun gal at a party.

And last, but most certainly not least...(because Lord knows I'm going to be running into all sorts of nastiness over the next several years)...

(image courtesy of google)

This little lovely is an Earwig (Forficula Auricularia) or, "Scary thing that better not try to come into my house". The one I found on the back patio was about an inch and a half long. We had these back in Massachusetts as well...but they were only half an inch at best, and you never saw them in the city. I love the city...did I mention that? I do. It's so nice there....sigh. 

I'm sorry...where was I?

These things have been around for thousands of years.  Ancient Native Peoples feared these wretched creatures, and rightly so. 

 (Image courtesy of google)
Here's proof... an ancient warning sign carved outside of the mouth of a cave at Canyon De Chelly. It says "Don't come in here...big nasty bugs will eat your brains!" (Trust me, that's what it says... I have studied ancient writings extensively.)

There's an old wives tale about earwigs...actually it's how they got their name. Legend has it that these horrible creatures crawl into the ear canal of sleeping humans and burrow into their brains to feed, and lay their eggs. Laughable, right? Ha ha ha...not so much. Turns out this urban legend may not be so far fetched after all. They do seek out warm, secure, hiding spots....and the human ear canal fits the bill....plus, there are documented cases of doctors pulling earwigs out of the ears of children....CHILDREN! I'm going to go throw up now. 

I have only seen each of these "new creatures" one time so far except for the black widow, but... One time is way MORE than enough. 

Did I mention that I hate insects? (I'm all itchy now). Well, I do... funny that I should end up moving to the heart of their kingdom. I mean, I get that no matter where you go, there are insects...but in Arizona, why do they have to be so darn big? 

If they start talking, I'm moving. 

Ew! I just had an image of a giant cockroach, I mean "Palmetto Bug" sitting next to me at the kitchen table drinking tea.... GAK!

Have a lovely day. I'm gonna go buy some stock in RAID. 


  1. LOL! As an AZ native, it was a pleasure to see your take on our six (or more) legged wildlife.
    Here's the thing about AZ bugs... they dont hide. The very first rule I learned as a little kid is dont put your hands or feet where you cant see them - not into a bush, not into the crag of a tree to climb it, not under an old dusty table without looking first. When we'd visit my cousins in the mid-west, I used to freak out over all the green bushy stuff I had to walk through, and the tiny little horrid bugs like TICKS and CHIGGERS and something the locals called a lake flea or sand flea that jumped on you from nowhere, with no chance for avoidance... awful. And then there were the weirdo wormy things in the trees (bag worms?) and caterpillars and flying whatevers that dropped out of the air at you.
    I'm used to the AZ bug, and I know where they'll likely be. Earwigs, however, I share your horror of completely. Fortunately, I dont see them around as much as when I was a kid, and now that I wear hearing aids in both ears, I consider my self much safter LOL!
    I dont care for the PVbeatles either, but at least you can see the suckers coming!

  2. Mary L. Scottsdale, AZDecember 06, 2011

    Hysterical. You've got some funny people over there at that museum. That's for sure. I'm going to have to take the ride and visit.