What's Lurking in My Garage Tonight?

That's the question I always ask myself when I first set foot in my garage on warm, bug-filled summer evenings here in Tucson. My garage, or more accurately the bug and spider zoo where I keep my car, always has something of the six or eight-legged variety lurking about, like this Tailless Whipscorpion (Paraphrynus mexicanus) that I saw one night in July of 2005. The Tailless Whipscorpion was feeling around for prey under an old board amid all the dirt and dog hair my garage collects.

Tailless Whipscorpion (Paraphrynus mexicanus)

Tailless Whipscorpions are roving, nocturnal hunters, and they feel around for prey using two of their amazingly long legs, which are many times the length of their bodies. Tailless Whipscorpions are not true scorpions, and these arachnids are non-venomous and quite harmless. Lacking venom, they use their huge, spiny, crushing mouthparts to kill their prey. Tailless Whipscorpions are very beneficial to have around in places like garages and sheds because they help control cockroaches and other pests. I never kill them because of this (even though they give me the creeps), and I have thankfully never found one in my house.

The Tailless Whipscorpion was not the only large arachnid I saw in my garage that summer night. A Giant Crab Spider (Olios species) was crawling around on the garage ceiling hunting for prey. The white spot on the spider's head was the light reflecting from one of its four eyes.

Giant Crab Spider (Olios species)

Giant Crab Spiders are also roving, nocturnal hunters. They are called Crab Spiders because they can scuttle sideways like a crab. These spiders can be mistaken for tarantulas because of their furry, fat-legged appearance and large size, with leg spans of about 2 1/4 inches (5.7 cm). They are quite beneficial because they hunt cockroaches, crickets, and other garage bugs, but they should not be handled (Horrors! Who would want to?) because they can bite, although their bites are not dangerous.

There were no doubt many more large, interesting spiders I could have photographed in my garage last night, but after quickly snapping these photos from a safe distance, my arachnophobia wouldn't let me stay minute longer in that spider zoo.