©Bert Gildart: With the help of Cheryl Gillott of the California Depart of Parks and Recreation, I now have a fairly good collection of some of the most interesting creepy crawlies that inhabit the desert in which we are now camped.
Explaining to Cheryl that I had been unable to find a scorpion (but we did at Pegleg several years ago) she said she would remove the top of their terrarium so that I might use my strobes and macro lens to photography the Giant Desert Hair Scorpion. Cheryl is stationed at the Ocotillo Wells Visitor Center, and she said until recently she had been seeing scorpions most every night.
RETREATING TO BURROWS
Cheryl said that the cool weather had forced most scorpions deep into their winter burrows. Conversely, she also said that the extremely hot weather of recent weeks had discouraged tarantulas from leaving their burrows, but that now they’re starting to show up. Having seen several now in the past few days, we certainly concur.
Appreciating Cheryl’s suggestion and the natural looking habitat I used an index card to position this Arachnid (same class as the tarantula) for a few quick images. Janie and I then visited with Cheryl where we learned a number of interesting facts.
GIANT HAIRY SCORPION FACTS
The Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion is the largest scorpion in North America, reaching lengths up to 6 inches. Its name derives from the brown hairs that cover its bodies, used to detect ground and air vibrations.
Though my image of this scorpion is also shown above, I’m including these three fascinating desert creature for comparative purposes.
L to R: Tarantual, Dearkling Beetle, Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion.
The tail of the Giant Hairy is long and each time I touched the creature with my card, its tail would snap back, exposing the bulb-like poison gland. Despite such explosive capabilities, some people claim it as a pet despite the fact this species is considered aggressive and that it will sting frequently.
WILL STAND ON ITS HEAD
So now I have images of tarantulas, scorpions but also of the Darkling Beetle, which is common and easy to find. We see the beetle daily and have noted that if we study it too closely that it will literally “stand on its head.” This is a threat posture and when it assumes this stance it is prepared to spray out a noxious fume. The spray, though effective, does not protect it from all predators. The carnivorous grasshopper mouse will grab the beetle then bury its business end in the sand, then chew off its head.
The more we learn, the more fascinated we become.
AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Sometimes the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy