The camel spider is a described species with a large, ugly appearance and is the subject of many sublime stories. The myths surrounding the creature became widespread in 2003, at the height of the Iraq war, when American soldiers began to discover their scrawny bodies in the deserts of the Middle East.
Before it became known to the US military, however, the creature was the subject of many fables told by the Persians, who saw it for the first time. But despite their intimidating appearance, camel spiders (which are not actually spiders) are harmless to humans. Moreover, it only lives for a year in the wild and spends most of its time hiding, hiding from the blazing sun in the desert.
Camels aren’t really spiders
The camel spider is actually a species of the class Arachnida (class spider) and is correctly called with the scientific name Solifugae. This order includes more than 1,000 described species in about 153 genera.
Despite their common names, they are not true scorpions (of the order Scorpions) and are not true spiders (of the order Araneae). Instead, they are cousins to pseudoscorpions and mites.
According to National Geographic, the Persians often told stories of this terrifying-looking creature standing tall, running through the desert like a whirlwind, hunting for human corpses and camels that dared to cross. its path. However, this is not entirely true. Camel spiders do not eat humans, camels or any other large mammal.
Instead, the solifugae – sometimes called the wind scorpion or the sun spider – is only about 15 centimeters long as an adult. And despite exaggerated stories of its “fast and furious” speed, its top speed is 10 miles per hour – only slightly faster than the average human.
Camel spiders have a voracious nature
Several reviews of the solifugae diet by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science found that camel spiders enjoyed eating wasps, termites, beetles, and other arthropods.
However, they can hunt small birds and even small snakes. If given the opportunity, it will eat until its belly swells – often becoming so large that it cannot move, especially if it eats too quickly. As a general rule, however, wind scorpions will not eat prey larger than themselves.
In fact, this creature has a rather aggressive personality – especially if it feels cornered or threatened. Although it has no venom glands, camel spiders have sharp pincer teeth called chelicerae that will cause damage if it comes into contact with human skin.
And while camel spider bites don’t require medical attention to heal, it’s a good idea to rinse the bite with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to prevent infection, in case it bites you. But, as a general rule: if you leave it alone, it will leave you alone.