# # Of Solpugids and Security Guards

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Of Solpugids and Security Guards

cae posing as a Security Guard – 1989-1991

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, I worked as a security guard at the Loveland, Colorado Hewlett Packard plant.

A sprawling complex of assembly and R&D, the plant was plagued by random waves of climatically inappropriate creatures inadvertently shipped to it in crates and pallets from places all over North America and the world; it wasn’t uncommon to find a gecko on the wall -in winter.

One year we were infested with the strangest, scariest looking arachnid I’ve ever seen.

Now I like spiders and their kin enough to not be too jumpy about them but these things would give anyone pause.

They were a pale, yellowish tan and some were quite large -upwards of about 1½” to 2 inches (5cm) long.

The chelicercae, which they held aloft and waved when threatening off potential enemies, terminated in large, brown or black tipped claws, not unlike those of a scorpion. The far smaller pedipalps, positioned near the head, allowed it to hold and position its prey, I suppose, while the rest of the legs featured similar, though more blunt and diminutive chela, which served as grasping feet.

The head segment had large, fang-like mandibles, the tips of which were shaded like the claws, though somewhat lighter –not too unlike in shape the mouth of the sci-fi movie monster ‘The Predator’.

The prosoma was also reminiscent of the scorpion, being oblong with the legs evenly spaced along its length, yet the creature lacked anything resembling the scorpion’s whipping tail; the longish opisthosoma tapering, pupae-like, a good way back behind the last set of legs.

Compelling in its loveliness, in other words.

While they were obviously nocturnal (my shift was 11pm to 7am and only the swing shift before us ever caught sight of the things), they certainly weren’t afraid of the light –nor much else.

The first time I caught sight of one, it was trundling up the recently buffed tiles of the hallway, on the hunt. I was a good twenty feet away but the size of the thing, and the surprising distance that it held its belly off the floor, caught my attention: what the hell is that?

I approached it expecting it to try and escape but it seemed unconcerned. When it finally did catch sight of me, it shocked me by turning and charging!
Captivated, I dashed back to the coffee stand and, fetching a Dixie cup, captured the little beast.

I happily paraded it around to the few other guards in the area then took it in to see the dispatcher, Jim.

Jim was an anomalous sort, of epigrammatic stature, studied dishevelment in dress, and suffering from a well-deserved inferiority complex that he attempted to conceal with vociferous, psuedo-intellectual jargon of such pedantic density that he could make this sentence seem tame (no, really).

Jim the Dispatcher

Knowing of Jim’s professed interest in anything smacking of science and learning, I figured he’d be thrilled to inspect -perhaps even identify- the mysterious specimen.

Beckoning him from the dispatch room, I bid him near as I cautiously peeled back the lid of the cup to give him a scientific peek. It was then that I learned three very interesting things:

#1. Despite its size, this arachnid’s claws allow it to ascend, among other things, the perpendicular walls of a paper cup.
#2. Said arachnid can also leap quite a long distance.
#3. Jim has an irrational, if common, fear of spiders; your normal, every day, household, and garden variety of spider. Faced with this creature – disproportionately large, of disturbingly unfamiliar configuration, springing towards the general direction of his upper body with assumed murderous intent – he was reduced to the state of a shrieking, little girl.

Dashing back to the safety of his dispatch office with a speed I wouldn’t have suspected him capable of, he slammed the door, face contorted with rage and fear.

“You son of a bitch!” he cried from behind the door’s Plexiglas pane, fist clenched white and shaking: “I’ll kill you for that!”

I apologized, voice thick with real remorse and suppressed laughter, and attempted to reassure him that I’d no idea he was afraid of spiders, that I’d not “maliciously flung the thing out of the cup” at him as he supposed, that it was not my idea of a joke.

Further study revealed that the long legs of this arachnid allowed it to move at an astonishing pace and even the smallest we encountered were surprisingly aggressive; running belligerently towards anything that moved, no matter how large, in an attempt to either scare it off or ascend to a soft spot and deliver what we assumed would be a painful bite – though I never heard of anyone being bitten by one.

Cruel bastard that I can be, I would occasionally delight in allowing them to run up to me in full battle-pose only to end their brave charge with a slight movement of my foot – splik! I wasn’t alone in my sadistic tendencies. Repulsed by the size, appearance, and aggressive nature of these accidentally imported beasties, people waged a plant-wide war against them with their feet, sticks, poisonous sprays, and anything else within reach.

In one instance, however, the little monsters had their vengeance.

Spotting one of the larger examples of its kind down the hallway, Rick, our second in command, gave a war whoop and, coffee-cup in hand, dashed down the hall towards his fearlessly advancing quarry. Leaping into the air at the last crucial second, he landed square on top of it with a mighty stomp.

Rick – Late Shift Supervisor

Rick failed to take a number of important physical factors into account before launching said attack, however, including but not limited to the amount of liquid contained within the creature’s carapace and the freshly buffed tiles that served as his proposed field of honor.

His arachnid vanquishing foot shooting out from under him, Rick went down hard; tailbone and elbows cracking on the tiles, scalding hot coffee splashing liberally over the general area, and mashed arachnid remnants smeared all up one leg of his official issue, grey polyester trousers.

Such sport was fleeting, however, as the (in reality rather innocent and helpless) little creatures didn’t survive long in the Colorado climate. Sightings dwindled until, in little over a month’s time, they ceased completely.

Fool that I am, I never thought to capture and keep a specimen for identification and have remained baffled as to the species but, near as I can figure, they were some sort of wind scorpion (also known as sun or camel spiders, among other things). It is the clear memory of the claws that keeps me from proclaiming them said as, otherwise, that is what they most resembled.

A Windscorpion

I did see something like it years later, in an apartment I lived in just north of Loveland but it was smaller, paler, softer, and lacked the claws; a more typical wind scorpion.

Even in the age of Google, my casual searches have not yielded an example that matches my memory of the creature exactly and I’m left wondering if the years have jumbled some of the details in my head, inadvertently fashioning a semi-mythical beast out of it -not unlike an ancient cartographer’s graphic “here there be monsters” at the edge of my memory’s tattered map.

Update – July 9th 2014

Today, a friend posted a story on Facebook re: solpugids in her home. The name “sunspider” was mentioned and then a friend of hers posted this link to a page about them on the Colorado State University Extension website: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05589.html

As a link of this type is wont to expire, I felt moved to include the picture from that page that interested me so. Note the enlarged pedipalps radiating forward from the head: don’t they appear to end in … claws?

sunspider - courtesy csu


This is the first appearance of an image supporting what I thought I saw, lo those many years ago, and even here I am left wondering if it isn’t but a trick of the light and the animal’s coloring, as virtually all other images of these little beasties show the front pedipalps terminating sans graspers.

I honestly don’t know but I find myself oddly relieved to see evidence of something more akin to the solpugids that scrabble about the darkened corners of my memory.

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2 Responses to “Of Solpugids and Security Guards”

  1. Roger says:

    Was this it?


    Seriously, you need to hit a library and start digging through the wildlife section, you’ll find it.

    Please write up the story about the dude who believe in the Rapture.

  2. cae says:

    > Was this it?

    That’s one of my favorite movie monsters: Mr. CrabbyHead!

    > Please write up the story about the dude who believe in the Rapture.

    Heh – I don’t know if I can do that story justice at this time – you do know I cribbed this entry almost straight outta my old, TBDX post, right?

    Wait, of course you do. Look who I’m typing at: Mr. Memory. =P

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