spider query
I was watching TV when I saw this spider walking across my hardwood floor. From a distance it looked like a small scorpion. It walked with its two large front legs in the air and the other legs in close to it body. Im happy to se it not a recluse but I cannot find anything that exactly resembles this spider. I took these photos after it was dead. I had to spray the it just incase it got away. I have never sen a brown recluse and with two small boys in the house.

This is a Solpugid, sometimes called a Sun Spider or a Wind Scorpion. It is perfectly harmless as it has no venom. Solpugids are hunting machines, hence they are beneficial predators. Solpugids will quicly dispatch the scorpions you fear, as well as spiders, cockroaches and other crawling things you may not want in your home. Perhaps the next Solpugid you meet will not be gassed to death.

Another Carnage Letter that ends on a Positive Note
(04/19/2008) I panicked…thanks for the help with identification
Dear Lisa Anne and Daniel,
Though you may not be entomologists, I appreciate this “pet project” a great deal, and have included it in my favorites list. There’s no site quite like it. I intend to come back anytime my field guide fails me .like tonight when I was sitting on the floor and a solpugid (as it turns out) took me by surprise as it came running down the hall toward me. Though my first reaction is usually to trap and release most insects after I’ve identified them, when in a blur it looks like a scorpion, I swat. I’ve got babies in my house. My first thought tonight when I looked at the carnage (only squashed the back of the abdomen, so the head and legs on one side were pretty intact) was ” but it looks like a 10 legged (what the!!!) spider? with some pretty serious fangs” Next time I won’t kill my solpugid, and save it for the boys to see in the morning before releasing. Other interesting crittiers we’ve found in our family room– The Jerusalem Cricket that slowly crawled down the same tile hallway making a mysterious clicking sound for about 15 min. till we discovered the alien like source. Glad I didn’t accidentally step on that spiky exoskeleton with my bare feet. Definitely have plenty of house centipedes (thanks for that ident. I knew it was a centipede, but it had such long hairy legs). And the bright green and hairy Wolf Spider I came across a few years back was really quite something.   Living in relatively the same geographic region, I wonder if you have ever experienced the amazing appearance in fall of a distinctive dark brown (almost black) spider with orange stripes? Appropriately clad for Halloween in October…which is when they made their first appearance, en masse, on our patio (which has a roof). My husband who was irritated that he couldn’t get to the BBQ to make dinner one night announced to them all “so if you are here tomorrow night, I’m getting my torch out (the chef kind-mini one).” They must have listened, as from that night on, they only spun their webs after dinner, and had rolled up/eaten/torn loose their webs by morning. I even attempted to videotape one spinning it’s web one night. I see them appear about the same time every year (never as many as that first year in the house)…I’ve seen one over at the Huntington too. Oh, and our 6 foot tall friend walked up to one that was spinning one night, and the little guy put up his front legs in defense as if to say “bring it on big guy.” Definitely not a timid spider.” That year they would hide out in the creases between ceiling boards/the occasional knot in the wood during the day. Now I only find them in the outlying bushes, rarely under the patio roof anymore. Any idea what title I can attribute to the photos I’m sure to one day find again?  Another mom over in Mt. Washington says she has had a similar experience.
Glendale , CA

Hi Amelia,
Your spiders are probably Araneus Orb Weavers, or perhaps a Neoscona species. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has a spider identification service. Just capture a spider and take it in for identification.

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