Okay, I need to settle this argument, once and for all.
While sitting in the backyard, I noticed a spastic critter skittering across the wall and pointed it out to my guests. The first comment was “It’s a vinegaroon”.
I replied that it was a “sun spider”.
“No, it’s a vinegaroon”.
“No, it’s a sun spider”.
The reason I knew it was a sun spider was a few years earlier, we had found a strange, scary looking creature and sent it to the Smithsonian. They graciously sent a full-fledged report back on the specimen. The scientific name is “solpugid” and they are voracious predators. They are beneficial to home owners as they prey on cockroaches, bedbugs, and other pests. They are related to spiders and have been called camel spiders and wind scorpions. They are not poisonous, but according to the Smithsonian, have the strongest jaws in the world, proportional to their size. They are fascinating to watch as they hunt, catch and devour their prey. They have poor eyesight and rely on the hairs on their front “legs” that they hold out to sense vibrations of potential prey.
Some of you may have seen the internet photo that circulated from overseas depicting what appears to be a gigantic mutated version of the sun spider. It was an optical illusion. The sun spider was actually two spiders hooked together and they were normal sizes, approximately five inches across, each.
They are called “camel spiders” due to the MYTH that they live inside camel’s stomachs and each their way out. Other myths are that they can run 25-30 mph and scream as they do so or that they have anesthetic venom that allows them to gnaw at their victim without the victim knowing and that they get to the size of a Frisbee. Those “camel spiders” are the same as we have here, but we have no camels (that I’ve seen).
Vinegaroons on the other hand are usually called whip scorpions, partially due to the tail (usually where a real scorpions sting/tail would be) being a hair-like projection. They are not poisonous, but spray a type of acid that smells like, you guessed it, vinegar. They prey on insects and are harmless to humans. I have yet to see a vinegaroon around the LV area.
Another name they have been called is “cave spider”
Evil looking to say the least, but have yet to hear of any encounters with humans other than the show “Fear Factor”, where the contestant had to eat several of the crunchy critters. You will see several photos where the owners of the creepy crawly are holding it in their hands.
Hmmm. Vinegaroon and oil salad dressing? All natural…no croutons needed. Got crunch?