Two scorpions, actually.
One of the more unpleasant facts about life in the Deep South is the sheer number of insects who call your house home. When I moved to southern Texas from my nearly bug-free Colorado quarters, I discovered I would now be sharing digs with carpenter ants, sugar ants, tiny paper-eating silverfish, an assortment of house spiders, giant brown American cockroaches (also called palmetto bugs or water bugs; no matter how surgically clean you keep your house, it's almost impossible to avoid them here) and to my horror, scorpions. So far no one's been stung, but we've had one at least one close call.
A few days ago, I noticed that one of the little house spiders in our downstairs bathroom had something rather large caught in its cobweb. A closer inspection revealed that that thing was a scorpion.
Then when I went to photograph the carcass pile a few days later I noticed that there was not one, but two scorpion husks laying in the pile. Two scorpions! You go, little spider.*
I've decided to name my little friend Shelob, because she guards the insect back door to our home, a small plastic tube installed in the bathroom to allow water to escape should the sink or toilet overflow.
When insects use this tunnel to enter our home, Shelob awaits.
I decided to ask Bug Girl and Wired Blogger Gwen Pearson (author of the blog "Charismatic Minifauna") whether my spider's feats were noteworthy.
She didn't weigh in on that subject directly -- and cautioned that she is not a scorpion specialist -- but she did say that my spider was probably just making use of what prey she can find.
"If your house is really dry, the scorpion may have been a little weakened," she wrote. "Probably because Shelob is bogarting all the prey, which is their main source of water in a dry, air-conditioned house."
Out of curiosity, does anyone recognize what species of spider Shelob is?
As you can see, it's not always necessary to go outside to see natural history in action. Sometimes the natural history happens right under your nose if you keep your eyes peeled.
*I have nothing against scorpions per se and actually feel they are wonderful creatures with extraordinary maternal instincts (i.e. mama scorpions who tote all their little scorpionlings around on their back). My problem is with scorpions in my house.