Saturday, June 7, 2008

Creepy Crawlies

Something I came across earlier this week, while trying to ID a bug:

The two-striped walking stick (aka musk mare, prairie alligator, devil's riding horse, or witch's horse) can "shoot a noxious substance from glands in the "neck" region with amazing accuracy"-- up to 15 inches away! They aim for the eyes of pets or people who disturb or threaten them; the resultant "irritation and blurry vision may last for hours". (They can also be pretty stinky, apparently. And someone who got the spray in his mouth reported that it has a disgusting taste, too. (g))

Sounds like something from the latest sci-fi film! These things live along the coastal plain from Florida to Texas, and as far north as South Carolina. If you see them, you'll probably want to avoid them-- or at least put on some safety goggles before you get close. (g)

Note: They don't always spray when handled. Many people report "friendly" encounters with these insects, only to learn later on that things could have ended badly. Still, it's best to be on the safe side. Some of those who have been sprayed were not even handling the insects. They simply got too close for the bug's comfort-- an easy thing to do, considering that they're camouflaged.