DEAR JOAN: Our grandson found this "critter" while camping on Mount Diablo. We are not sure what it is, but we thought maybe it's a tailless whip scorpion. We'd appreciate any ideas.
John and Lorrie Osborn
DEAR JOHN AND LORRIE: Your grandson has a sun scorpion, also called a wind scorpion, sun spider and scorpion spider. In New Mexico, where I grew up, we called them vinegarones.
Despite appearance and names, these little guys are neither scorpion nor spider, although they are distantly related to both. They have no venom and lack the capacity to sting. They are completely harmless, except perhaps to spiders, which are their favorite food. They also eat small insects and anything else they can capture in their jaws.
They usually are given a wide berth because of their resemblance to a scorpion. They have five pairs of legs. Three pairs are used for walking, the other two for grabbing, grasping and stuffing live bugs into their mouths.
Sun scorpions are ridiculously fast, which also adds to their bad-boy rep. They hunt at night and spend the days hanging out in burrows or under rocks.
Sun scorpions have run into trouble as their habitat has disappeared to development. They are known to wander into houses, causing all sorts of terrified screaming and calls to bring out the Raid. But they are harmless to humans and pets, and there is no need to take any action against them. Just scoop them up with the newspaper and shuttle them out the door. Or let them hang around to take care of your indoor bug problems. Mount Diablo is a haven for sun scorpions so please enjoy them from a safe (for them) distance.
DEAR JOAN: On June 15, a fawn was attacked by a (neighbor's) dog in our yard overlooking Lake Cascade.
My son jumped out of bed and ran down to try to save the baby, which by then was careening down the hill and into the lake, pursued by the barking dog. The fawn disappeared below the water and my son tried unsuccessfully to catch the dog.
Numerous times this hunting dog, a German shorthair pointer, has been off leash, and we can only guess that the disappearance of the fawn's twin last week was due to dog predation.
This valley is home to a great diversity of wildlife and we know that most of the residents treasure living here. I can't fault the dog for following its instincts, but its owner is not only negligent, but also breaking the law and risking public safety.
We had been following the daily activities of the fawns and their mother as they visited our yard. I don't know if we will ever forget the bloodcurdling screams of the fawn as it died.
Shame on all dog and cat owners who fail to protect wildlife and neighbors from their pets.
DEAR KATHY: I couldn't have put it better myself.
This isn't just some animal lovers lecturing here. It's the law. Cats and dogs both must be under the supervision and control of their owners at all times. That means on leash when outside of your property and secured in house or yard when home.
Scooby is an adorable 9-year-old miniature Schnauzer whose master is elderly and unable to take care of him. He's accustomed to one owner, but is social. If you've got a place for him, please call Rosemary at 925-937-4463.
Contact Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org.