(Wind spider, Sun spider, Camel spider)
Information and replies re photos posted by Linda
Phylum: Arthropoda, subphylum Chelicerata, class Arachnida)
This group of arachnids has various common names most of which
suggest that they are spiders, which they are not. The only
similarity they share with spiders is the fact that they have eight
legs. Solifugids have no venom glands and are not a threat to man
although they are very aggressive and fast moving and can inflict a
name of the solifugids originates from the Latin for 'fleeing from
the sun' although many species are nocturnal. The term 'sun spider'
applies to those species active during the day that tend to avoid
the heat and dash from shadow to shadow - often of a person - giving
the alarming impression that they are giving chase. The term 'red
roman' probably originates form the Afrikaans term 'rooiman' (red
man) due to the red-brown colour of some species. The popular terms
'haarskeerders' and 'baardskeerders' (Afrikaans words for hair and
beard cutters) originate from the strange behaviour of some of these
animals where they cut hair from sleeping people or animals (dogs)
at night. It appears that female solifugids find hair to be an ideal
Solifugids appear to have 10 legs but in fact, the first pair of
appendages are the pedipalps that are very strong and are used for
various functions such as drinking, fighting, feeding and mating.
The first pair of legs are thin and short and used as tactile
organs. The fourth pair of legs are the longest and strongest and
carry white structures called racket organs - the purpose of which
is not known.
They vary in size and those found locally are quite small, about
15-20 mm, but in the arid areas they can reach 70 mm and with legs
included, can measure 160 mm. The head is large, supporting large
strong chelicerae (jaws). The 11 segmented abdomen is soft and
expandable that enables the animal to each large amounts of food.
The order includes various families; Ceromidae, Daesiidae,
Gylippidae, Hexisopodidae, Karschiidae, Melanoblossiidae, Solpugidae.
Of the 900 species throughout the world, 240 species occur in
southern Africa. Solifugids are divided into two groups - nocturnal
and diurnal. The diurnal species are usually more brightly coloured
and the nocturnal species are usually much larger. These arachnids
are found mostly in the hot arid regions and have a resistance to
high temperatures and low humidity.
Solifugids prey on various insects, spiders, scorpions, small
retiles, dead birds and even each other. Some species are
exclusively termite predators. They run their prey down and once
they catch it they eat while the prey is still alive with vigorous
ripping and cutting actions of the powerful jaws.
Male solifugids have hook-like flagella on the chelicerae, uniquely
shaped for each species, that probably play some part in mating.
During mating, the male deposits a spermatophore in the female's
vagina. About 20 to 200 eggs are produced and hatch within about
four weeks. Solifugids live for about a year and pass through 9
instars before maturity. They are solitary animals living in scraped
out sand retreats under rocks and logs.
Dippenaar, A. 1993. Sunspiders - some interesting facts. African
Wildlife. 47(3): 120-122.
|2 July, 2003:
Another Reply: Hi all. I
found each of your photos on the Spider ID Webpage regarding the "camel
spider". I'll have to look up that name for it as well, but I know it as
"Mexican Sun Spider", "Wind Scorpion", and "Salpogida". I've learned
something new about them from each of your posts, and thought I might add my
"two cents" to what's been said in case I can help as well"
The largest native version we've seen here is about 2 inches, There is a
much larger one being imported into our local pet stores here from South
Africa (and probably Kuwait and other Arab Emerite countries as was
mentioned regarding our desert troops). that can get up to 4 inches .I just
hope some bozo doesn't let his "pet" loose to interbreed. with the native
stock. They're horrible enough as it is, with the size they are now!
I live in the tail end of San Diego County (Ramona) between the Anzo Borrego
Desert and the pine mountains of Julian, so I get the extreme temperatures
of both places depending on which way the wind decides to blow. My
house/yard of 10 years has many of these nasty beasties. We believe they
probably plagued the original house owners too for another 15 years
previous. It might even be the true reason why they sold the house.
These Sun Spiders are mean! We've had Mexican Black Tarantulas (got one in a
jar right now, waiting for a trip to our local canyon), brown recluse and
black widow spiders, as well as rattlesnakes in our house and yard, but they
don't frighten us (other than the $800 per dog-x 2 dogs-antivenon pricetag
we've had to pay) but they are relatively non-aggressive and will leave us
alone if we do the same for them. However, my whole family is afraid of the
Mexican Sun Spiders. They are incredibly aggressive!!!! If they are on the
hunt, they run to us if we make leg movements on the floor. I don't know if
they sense the vibration or "see" the movement, but we've all been chased
around the room by the really aggressive ones. They also climb walls and
other things, so there is no escape from them when you are resting in a
chair or on a bed..
I was especially unhappy to hear how they envenomate and eat, from Linda's
article response. I knew from the pet store captives that they ate baby mice
as well as crickets, no different than a Tarantula or other large spider
does, but I guess I didn't want to dwell on the process in relation to the
sun spiders in my house. My son has nightmares already about the large one
(almost 2 inches) that ran up his leg and tried to bite him through the
denim-even with three people trying to remove the spider from the pant leg,
so I don't think I will tell him what you said it was probably aiming to do
once it got through the pants material with those nasty crab claws they have
for mouth ornaments.
Yes. We've used professional exterminators-most of whom have never
encountered a Salpogida before and have no clue what to do for them- and
when that failed, we worked hard for almost a year to pick up all leaf
litter, boxes, large rocks-anything they can hide under in the yard or
house.....and they still keep coming.
My fondest wish is that my expanding population of fire ants will meet my
expanding population of sun spiders and both sides will lose the battle. Fat
chance, but I can dream.............lol
If any of you happen to come across anything that can be used to treat these
critters other than the methods I've already tried, I'd be really grateful
if you would pass it on to me! Meantime, I'll be here with my "little pals"
waiting for their killer bee and Australian Funnel Web spider friends to
cross the border and add to the fun.
Yours in spiderhood,
My name is SSgt Layton, from Beale AFB, CA. I have also came
across this type of animal in my work center. I took it to
Entomology(a place that knows about all of the local bugs in the
area) and he told me it was a
Pseudo Scorpion a.k.a. a pale wind scorpion. Believe it or not it
does belong to the scorpion family. It is a non poisonous,
nocturnal, aggressive bug hunter. It hunts by vibration from other
insects and spiders.
Although it is an ugly cuss, it is a helpful bug and should not be
destroyed (at least that is what I was told). I hope this helps
you out and calms your fears about the ugly little
SSgt Chad C. Layton
Combat Arms Instructor
Beale AFB, CA 95903
More info from Linda. Here's another reply she was sent:
would watch out for these... If you have found three there may be
bound to be more... Apparently there are typically a few smaller
(which are actually quite large) spiders which 'patrol' the area
while the largest lurks... So unless you've found the largest one,
there may still be more to find... Bad things to know... Their venom
is a numbing type which they will numb a piece of flesh, and then
eat away... Have had reports of them eating pieces as large as a
baseball. They're typically found in the desert, i have included
pictures of one i caught while deployed in Iraq this month... They
are fairly dangerous spiders, i would look into a exterminator to
make sure there aren't more. The front two legs are actually feelers
and not legs, they serve no other purpose to feel around. if you
notice they aren't skinny like the rest. Hope this info helps, and
doesn't scare the bejeesus out of you. And i dont know their
technical name... Marines have been running into these spiders since
the beginning in 29 Palms/ Palm springs area...
Check out this link as well as the picture I've attached. It
appears that this "creature" is often mistaken for a
It is called a "SOLPUGID (SOL-PEW-JUD). Also known as the Camel
Spider or Wind Scorpion. Believe it or not it EATS scorpions, mice
and lizards too! YIKES! Though it is not known to be a venemous or
poisonous spider, it has been known to make humans ill if bitten.
I believe my Indian friends, they say it makes you very very sick!
Anyhow, I think this is our answer for our little victim
creatures. Though they appear to have ten legs the two "front
legs" are actually arms used to catch their prey. Pretty fast
buggers too, been recorded at speeds of 10 mph in Afghanistan,
known to habitat there as well. Guess they like that arid desert!!
Guess you better check those doors and windows, wouldn't want
too many of those crawling around the house! Not in MY HOUSE
anyway. Eeeeeekkk! Hope this info helps. Let me know if you find
out anything else.
Deonna and Eric
BTW all the info I found I was on the internet. Once the name of the
spider is known it's easy to find info. Thanks to the pictures of
course. By the by, our little friend is in a jar with a lid. He's
a bit agitated to say the least, guess he's hungry as they are
known to have voracious appetites! We're too scared to let him
out. Guess he'll be the neighborhood pet for a while!! :)
HELLO, That photo you submitted that you found in your
house It's not a spider it is a "Wind Scorpion". The good
news is there's not one drop of venom in them. The bad news
is they have some of the strongest clippers on the planet. I
found about 9 last summer in my yard up here in Las Vegas,
NV. What ever you don't try to pick it up even though it has
no venom. If they feel something moving they will tear through it
like a shredder till it's gone. I did a test with a wind scorpion
and 4 cockroaches. I made them run and when they touched
this scorpion it tore it to shreds and ate it. He ate all 4
cockroaches in 10 minutes. And those 2 extra legs are his
feelers. The Wind Scorpion.
Another reply: That is a camel spider. im deployed
right now and we catch them all the time and make them fight. that
one is acually a baby. the ones we get are about the same length
as the sharpe marker you used. i know they are only in the desert
but i didnt know they were in california. there are alot of myths
that come from military personell but im not sure whats true and
whats myth. i do know that they eat raw meat, run 10 mph, and get
richard brown USAF
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