|Adult Yellow-crowned Night Herons at the nest
Of course, many misinterpretations are less benign and scare people into frantic actions against perceived pests or make them feel very sick from imagined parasites (and I'm not discounting that there are also real ones). Carl Olson and Garret Hughes are providing extension services for the entomology department of the University of Arizona. They often have to use a lot of tact, detective and persuasive skills to get to the bottom of the problem and give reasonable and helpful advice.
This 9 mm long spider that is sitting on my desk right now was just identified by Garret and Carl as Philodromidae (Running Crab Spiders) genus Thanatus. It came from the local Petsmart. I was buying live crickets when the employee jumped back from the cricket bin with a shriek and the assurance that she would NOT go near it again because there was a huge spider in it. I volunteered to take it outside. The lady at the cash register took one look and declared it a Brown Recluse. She could clearly see the violin shape on its back....
There is a long tradition to stories that get a peculiar twist through the interpretation and memory of the raconteur. As Arizona's centennial is approaching our newspaper is resurrecting stories that have been published 100 years ago. Here is one that will delight all herpetologists: