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You may have seen a recent local news article covering an unfortunate run-in one Arizonan had with a Camel Spider in the Valley. We wanted to take the opportunity to provide further information about Camel Spiders, for those of you who may be on guard against having a similar experience with one!
Their scientific name is “Solifugae”, but they are more commonly called Camel Spiders, Wind Scorpions, Sun Spiders, and Solifuges. The name “Camel Spider” refers to their tendency to be found in the desert. However, they are also found around the world and can be found outside hiding under rocks, wood, debris, and tree bark. It’s not uncommon for them to wander into human dwellings, such as crawlspaces, sheds, and other cool, shaded areas. They are generally nocturnal, and feed on insects, rodents, and small birds.
Actually, they are neither. Like scorpions and spiders, they are arachnids. However, they are distinct from both in many ways. Though they appear similar to spiders, they are not venomous and they do not spin webs. In terms of body structure, they are more similar to scorpions. However, they lack the distinguishing (and pain-inflicting) tail and stinger.
Camel Spiders are not venomous, but they have very strong jaws so bites may be moderately painful. They can be aggressive when provoked, and a bite could yield an infection if not properly cleaned and treated. But in most cases, they are harmless to humans. There are many grossly exaggerated reports of oversized Camel Spiders chasing humans. But keep in mind, these exaggerations are just that – exaggerations. Camel Spiders do not generally exceed 5-6 inches in overall size (including legs). Also, their speed tops out at about 10 miles per hour – impressive for such a small organism. But when they appear to be “chasing a human” they are usually actually just trying to follow the human’s shadow. It’s the shade they’re seeking – not the human.
Even so, their ominous looks are enough to scare most people. And, as mentioned above, though they are not poisonous they can deliver a nasty bite! Protect yourself and your family by keeping your house and property clear of potential hiding places and food sources (i.e., bugs and other pests). A monthly professional pest control treatment should keep your house free and clear of these guys!