Spineless creatures flee forest fires


That photo gave me flashbacks of the major armyworm infestations that used to occur when I was a kid… There would be thousands of those suckers marching everywhere you looked (the roads were slick with them).


He should consider a kids’ book. It would pair nicely with “Where Does the Butterfly Go When it Rains?” and it’s a good thing for kids to understand that not everyone has a permanent - or safe - home.

Regarding this headline; I see what you did there.


I’d be willing to bet that there’s a boatload of them which flew in the wrong direction.

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Like a moth to a flame?

Unless they’re dragonflies or other similarly fast flying animals, I have to wonder how many creepy crawlies can actually move faster than the leading edge of a forest fire. Is this truly an effective effort, or like many of us, is it just trying to put off the inevitable end as long as possible?

Running into a headwind, they’d be OK. It would provide oxygen, keep 'em cool and slow the fire down. A head wind can make a fire crawl at 2-5mph. With a tail wind, most invertebrates would be dead. A forest fire can normally run between 7-15 mph, but give it a strong tailwind and plenty of dry brush, and it may hit 30mph! Only the very fastest dragonflies and a few others would make it out.

Oh great… With the increased number of forest fires we now have a selection pressure to favor incredibly fast bugs.
I look forward to 20 mph Jerusalem crickets in my backyard:

Here in CA, I’d be watching out for a sudden influx of camel spiders. They’re fast - already 10 mph! They live here and in Mexico, as well as in the Middle East. I even caught one once at my granddad’s place in Glendale. (The U.S. version is smaller than the one found in the Middle East.)

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Fires go out eventually. Even if a lot of them get burnt up anyway, it is still an effective long term survival strategy to run away from fire. You might be one of the lucky ones that manages to get far enough away that the fire burns itself out before getting to you.

Yep - if you’re slow, burrowing can save your life in a fire.

Look at the date on the info on this page:


It’s probably not so much an “influx” as it may be more of a population boom as the hotter dryer trend that we’ve been having in CA pretty consistently in the last few years favors them. Seems that they’ve been here (however small their numbers) for quite a while.

I’m not a big fan of camel spiders, but I definitely hope we don’t start to get more of these:


Giant hairy desert scorpions are kinda cool and relatively harmless (and really fun to look for with UV lights). The sting from a bark scorpion on the other hand…

Hi Bobo - I think you may have missed that I was in a discussion. I was replying to crenquis who suggested 20 mph Jerusalem crickets as an evolutionary response to running from forest fires. So I suggested that Camel Spiders (at 10 mph the fastest crawling arthropods out there) might be more likely to get away from a fire and breed racers. I wasn’t suggesting that they were currently in a population explosion of any kind for any other reason. (Camel spiders, like scorpions, are nocturnal - so you’re not likely to see them - unless their population really booms!)

Full disclosure on me: I worked for a university entomology dept. for a year as their graphic specialist, and I take macro pics of arthropods. So while I’m not a pro about this topic, I promise I’m not a total goofball either. I’m already familiar with bugguide, and even once contributed to it. :slight_smile: Thanks for trying to give me a head’s up - I always prefer having the right information!

definitely missed it. And though “potato bugs” as we always called jerusalem crickets are widely considered some of the more super creepy insects out there, yeah, speed would only add an additional terrifying aspect to them.

The fun thing about living in these areas (as I’m sure you know) is that you run into these things when it’s least expected (frighteningly enough, I’ve had a bark scorpion wriggle out from under my butt after sitting on it accidentally on a downed tree in the middle of the day [did not get stung thanks to that little guy for being tolerant of my clumsy rear], and on another occasion had a juvenile hairy scorpion get washed out of a faucet where he had apparently hidden for the day (right before I washed my hands). A friend from Az has numerous similar stories that have greatly contributed to her terror of “wind scorpions”.

Also cool jumping spider pic.

Hmm… maybe we can breed mutant jerusalem cricket/solpugid hybrids to create an arthropod that can truly terrify everyone… Maybe add in dragonfly wings so they can fly. Fast.

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