Windscorpions a value to nature

Not long ago I received a telephone call from my college buddy, Guido Zecca, who resides in Gallup. He said, "Hey, Ton, I have something I want you to identify." My comment was, "Send it to me." Guido stated that the creature he mailed causes great fear to Navajo Indians. In fact, they believe the critter is a bad omen, sent by a witch to cast evil on the person it bites.

Upon receiving the specimen, I identified it as a Windscorpion. I have observed them several times in Roosevelt and Curry counties. Other names for the Windscorpion are Sun spider and Child of the Earth, which is the name also given to a harmless cricket. In the Navajo Indian language na'ashje'ii is the name given to the Windscorpion. It is also referred to as a Jumping Spider by Navajos.

Illustration by Tony Gennaro

To those not familiar with Windscorpions, they are viewed as extremely ugly and poisonous. But, the animal has no venom, and it lacks the tail-like stinger characteristic of scorpions. Windscorpions are tan in color and dwell in the American Southwest. They are primarily active at night and use their powerful jaws to capture spiders, insects, other arthropods, and even small lizards. Some accounts state that the animal has the most powerful jaws of others its size. It has a pair of conspicuous eyes behind the jaws, and the two appendages in front of the body, called pedipalps, are not legs. They are used to pass prey and water to the mouth. The other four pairs are legs and are used for walking and running. And, fast running is exactly what the Windscorpion does.

Because of their nonvenomous nature and rather uncommon occurrences, chemical controls are not recommended. Simply place caulking and weather stripping on doors and windows when openings to the outside occur. Such procedures will also reduce entry by other unwelcome guests.

And finally, we must remember that Windscorpions are not invading our premises, we are invading theirs.

Desert Biologist Tony Gennaro of Portales writes a monthly column on creatures of the Southwest. Contact him at: tonygennaro_08@msn.com

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