To survive and evade in arid or desert areas, you must understand and prepare for the environment you will face. You must determine your equipment needs, the tactics you will use, and how the environment will affect you and your tactics. Your survival will depend upon your knowledge of the terrain, basic climatic elements, your ability to cope with these elements, and your will to survive.
PRECAUTIONSIn a desert survival and evasion situation, it is unlikely that you will have a medic or medical supplies with you to treat heat injuries. Therefore, take extra care to avoid heat injuries. Rest during the day. Work during the cool evenings and nights. Use a buddy system to watch for heat injury, and observe the following guidelines:
- Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
- Watch for signs of heat injury. If someone complains of tiredness or wanders away from the group, he may be a heat casualty.
- Drink water at least once an hour.
- Get in the shade when resting; do not lie directly on the ground.
- Do not take off your shirt and work during the day.
- Check the color of your urine. A light color means you are drinking enough water, a dark color means you need to drink more.
DESERT HAZARDSThere are several hazards unique to desert survival. These include insects, snakes, thorned plants and cacti, contaminated water, sunburn, eye irritation, and climatic stress.
Insects of almost every type abound in the desert. Man, as a source of water and food, attracts lice, mites, wasps, and flies. They are extremely unpleasant and may carry diseases. Old buildings, ruins, and caves are favorite habitats of spiders, scorpions, centipedes, lice, and mites. These areas provide protection from the elements and also attract other wild-life. Therefore, take extra care when staying in these areas. Wear gloves at all times in the desert. Do not place your hands anywhere without first looking to see what is there. Visually inspect an area before sitting or lying down. When you get up, shake out and inspect your boots and clothing. All desert areas have snakes. They inhabit ruins, native villages, garbage dumps, caves, and natural rock outcropping that offer shade. Never go barefoot or walk through these areas without carefully inspecting them for snakes. Pay attention to where you place your feet and hands. Most snakebites result from stepping on or handling snakes. Avoid them. Once you see a snake, give it a wide berth.
*(see snakes of the desert - previous post - 11-09)*
"Insects and Arachnids of the Desert"
Insects are often overlooked as a danger to the survivor. More people in the United States die each year from bee stings, and resulting anaphylactic shock, than from snake bites. A few other insects are venomous enough to kill, but often the greatest danger is the transmission of disease.
Description: Dull brown, yellow, or black. Have 7.5- to 20-centimeter long lobsterlike pincers andjointed tail usually held over the back. There are 800 species of scorpions.
Habitat: Decaying matter, under debris, logs, and rocks. Feeds at night. Sometimes hides in boots.
Distribution: Worldwide in temperate, arid, and tropical regions.
Scorpions sting with their tails, causing local pain, swelling, possible incapacitation, and death.And when it comes to scorpion stings SMALLER ones are bad ju ju ! Venom potency - Big is better - Smaller ones seem to be more venomous not the other way around.
Description: Brown to black with obvious "fiddle" on back of head and thorax. Chunky body with long, slim legs 2.5 to 4 centimeters long.
Habitat: Under debris, rocks, and logs. In caves and dark places.
Distribution: North America.
Atrax species (A. robustus, A. formidablis)
Description: Large, brown, bulky spiders. Aggressive when disturbed.
Habitat: Woods, jungles, and brushy areas. Web has a funnellike opening.
Distribution: Australia. (Other nonvenemous species worldwide.)
Theraphosidae and Lycosa species
Description: Very large, brown, black, reddish, hairy spiders. Large fangs inflict painful bite.
Habitat: Desert areas, tropics.
Typically, in the southwestern United States, tarantulas live in solitude in desert basins, mountain foothills and forested slopes. They occupy various kinds of nests, with many species taking up residence in burrows or crevices, which may be sequestered in the ground, along cliff faces, among rocks, under tree bark, or between tree roots. Some line the burrow with silk. Some surround the entrance with a silken "welcoming mat," which vibrates like guitar strings, sending signals to the spider, cloistered in its burrow, if potential prey should touch the strands. "A tarantula will attack literally anything that it can subdue: beetles, grasshoppers, locusts, other spider, small lizards and mice,"Distribution: Western Americas, Southern Europe.
Description: Dark spiders with light red or orange markings on female's abdomen.
Habitat: Under logs, rocks, and debris. In shaded places.
he female black widow is easily recognized by her shiny black body and red hourglass marking underneath her round abdomen. Although black widows can be found in nearly every state they are most common in the southern areas of the United States. The black widow makes her home in wood piles, under eaves, and other undisturbed places. The bite of a black widow can be serious and require medical attention. Symptoms include pain radiating from the site of the bite, nausea, overall aching of the body, profuse sweating, and labored breathing.Distribution: Varied species worldwide. Black widow in United States, red widow in Middle East, and brown widow in Australia.
Note: Females are the poisonous gender. Red Widow in the Middle East is the only spider known to be deadly to man.
Description: Multijoined body to 30 centimeters long. Dull orange to brown, with black point eyes at the base of the antenna. There are 2,800 species worldwide.
Habitat: Under bark and stones by day. Active at night.
BeeDescription: Insect with brown or black, hairy bodies. Generally found in colonies. Many buil wax combs.
Habitat: Hollow trees, caves, dwellings. Near water in desert areas.
Note: Bees have barbed stingers and die after stinging because their venom sac and internal organs are pulled out during the attack.
Description: Generally smooth bodied, slender stinging insects. Many nest individually in mud nests or in paper nest colonies. Smooth stinger permits multiple attacks. There are several hundred species worldwide.
Habitat: May be found anywhere in various species.
Note: An exception to general appearance is the velvet ant of the southern United States. It is a flightless wasp with red and black alternating velvety bands.