Camel spiders are not just known as camel spiders; in fact this spider is also known as a sun spider, sun scorpion and a wind scorpion. Scorpion? I know right, the more crazy fact is that it isn’t even a spider. It is a Solpugae, which is an order of Arachnida. So this in between creature looks similar to both a scorpion and a spider, and scares people just as much as a scorpion or a spider does.
The camel spider is a brown tone and appears to be on the hairy side. They average around 3 to maybe 5 inches, but can be much smaller. Like spiders they have 8 legs, but one pair is smaller than the rest as it is used to help them run. They also have pedipalps, which are similar to the antennae on insects. One differentiating thing about their pedipalps is that they look like really long legs, rather then something sticking off their head. They are used to help find food, capture food, and move around; they even can make a slight sound as the camel spider is moving.
The camel spider is a desert pest, although it can be found as far North as Canada. In the Southwest the camel spider loves the warm weather, as it does for any other desert locations. The camel spider prefers the heat and dry air, and is timid of the cold. While in the desert terrain they often stay underground, unless it is to come out and get food. This usually happens during the night time, as they rest underground or at least in the shade during the day. They will leave the burrows in the summer more often. Summer time is usually when homeowners actually start to notice them.
When a homeowner sees a camel spider they usually freak out, because they can’t decipher what it actually is. Since it has legs that look like a spider and a weird body that could be anything people assume that it is a scary desert vermin. It does look creepy and scary, but the camel spider is actually not as bad as you’d think. It can bite a person, but that is a rare occurrence, but it does not have any poison in it. Although many people have a hard time believing it when they hear one of the many names it can be called like wind scorpion. Learn about all of the camel spider myths people believe in.
Not having any poison in them is actually a somewhat bad thing for the camel spider. Without poison it can not attack its prey in that manner. Rather, the camel spiders have to be more aggressive hunters. They will stalk their prey and then attack. Some of the camel spiders many legs are very helpful during hunting and feeding time. The bottoms of them are sticky, so they help trap the prey and also help keep the food in place while devouring it. Another bizarre thing they do when eating is that they will literally stuff themselves, to the point where their bellies are so full they don’t move for some time. The camel spiders eat different kinds of insects, beetles, small lizards, and even scorpions.
In any case this creature is not very harmful and is more afraid of you than you are of it. To keep them from getting in your home, have a pest company treat your home for other insects and vermin. In most cases it will make its home near where its food is living.
Picture by Dolor Ipsum from www.creativecommons.org. Picture from Arizona resident Jenna.