A really charming Mystery "Bug"
A care package of spiffy treats!!! (organic jams, delightful whole leaf teas, etc.)… …to whoever can relieve me of my obsessive and unsuccessful search for the identification of the delightful leggity being I photographed on a piece of Doug-fir firewood last spring. Attached. I named the photos "red spider boyee" as a mnemonic, not sure it is a spider. Is it a whipscorpion? Reminds me of the general vinegaroon body plan…and has that delightful flat lapstrake butt. It was under the tarp, dazed by the early morning light, and very shy. Nocturnal behavior. Also it was on the woodpile on our patio, which is frequently accessed. So must have come in the night. I took the photo then covered it back up. The growth rings on this Doug-fir chunk are maybe 2 mm each (red and yellow, each) so we’re talking about an overall bodylength of not much more than a centimeter. CUTE. I looked and looked and looked, normally able to find anything on the World Wide Web. But no luck. … I am writing from just outside Olympia, WA, in the rapidly suburbanizing wooded hinterlands of Pugetopolis. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
This is a Harvestman in the order Opiliones, which contains the Daddy Long Legs. This particular Harvestman is in the suborder Laniatores. There are several photos on BugGuide from Oregon, but none from Washington. Using their raptorial pedipalps, Laniatores prey on small invertebrates. Are you really sending us a care package???
Update: Michelle received this more thorough reply shortly after our response
Your specimen is definitely a harvestman (arachnid order Phalangida or Opiliones) of the suborder Laniatores. It is a fine example of why arachnologists never use the term “daddy-longlegs”! The most likely species for you to have there is Sclerobunus nondimorphicus of the family Triaenonychidae. However, there is a remote chance of finding one of the old-growth obligate species of the genus Pentanychus or Isolachus (Pentanychidae). All these species look pretty much the same in top view, and in fact, dissection is needed for definitive ID. Harvestmen are chiefly predatory but can scavenge as well. Unlike pseudoscorpions they do not have the chelate, scorpion-like pedipalps. They have no silk or venom. In this particular group of harvestmen the palps are spiny. The two centrally located eyes are another thing that might tell you that it’s a harvestman, as well as the subsegmented leg tarsi. I’m amazed to find very little Sclerobunus info on the internet. However, Wikipedia has a bare bones illustrated article on S.robustus (which does not occur in western Wash.). S. nondimorphicus is so common here I have over 120 vials of them in my collection. The very small amount of published info on this species is in this paper: http://www.archive.org/stream/occasionalpapers90cali/occasionalpapers90cali_djvu.txt PS. I’d welcome any caffeinated tea. Don’t use much jam. 🙂
Rod Crawford, Burke Museum, Seattle, USA
I’m so excited!! I have a photo and letter published on WTB! This is better than the times my ex got two letters published in the Archie McPhee catalog, or when my husband showed the Dalai Lama his 3D tattoo! Opiliones! We LOVE those guys. I can see it now with your identification. The two eyes on top–duh. Rod Crawford at the Burke Museum (U. of WA Seattle), and Pugeopolis’s spider expert, also replied … You put in a lot of work on this site, I’ve read What’s That Bug? for years, it is one of my favorite-ever Web sites. If I had to give up all Web sites but one, I’d cry while surrendering /The Onion/…but I’d do it, for What’s That Bug? … But we still have a universe to learn about bugs. You do more for the evolution of the human spirit and mind than most churches. Wait, that’s not saying much. OK, never mind the comparison. You encourage people to evolve compassion and connection. You encourage respect and appreciation for our ancestors and neighbors. I love the site’s vilification of savagery against arthropods, and its the tone of affection and respect for these creatures, and affirmation of their beauty and importance. I love the way you lay it on the line around the stupidity of killing beneficial insects, and our need to face our silly fears and grow past them. I love the way you encourage the heretical belief, based on empirical evidence, that Nature Bats Last.
So of COURSE you get a care package. So–where are you? Strawberry, raspberry, apricot, citrus marmalade, or mixed berry? For tea–green? oolong? black? pu-erh? Need steeping instructions? How many of you ARE there? Iowa’s a big state. I know that, because we’re expatriate Cheezers. Peace
Ed. Note: We replied to this wonderful letter offline, but for the record, the offices of What’s That Bug? are in Los Angeles.