You may have seen one of these little critters scurrying around your garage, or been startled by one while weeding your garden, but despite what you have heard, camel spiders are not particularly dangerous to humans.
The camel spider, or Wind Scorpion as it is sometimes called because it “runs like the wind,” has gotten quite the bad reputation due to exaggerated photos and stories on the Internet. Their fierce appearance has led many who cross their path to believe that they are extremely dangerous.
Not true, says Idaho State University Department of Biology Instructional Lab Coordinator Jessica Fultz.
“They are actually kind of beneficial because they eat the flies around your home, grasshoppers, things like that. They are not particularly picky about what they eat.”
Fultz says the creatures do not pose a threat humans because they are not poisonous and will only bite if they feel threatened.
According to the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, (UC IPM Online), the camel spider is 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long, has a round abdomen and no stinger.
Fultz adds that many people think that it is uncommon for camel spiders to be found in this area of the country, so they think they have made a rare discovery.
“They are common here, people are just seeing them more because it is hot outside.”
Camel Spider/Wind Scorpion myths dismissed
• Myth: The camel spider is half spider, half scorpion: Nope. This creature is neither a spider nor a scorpion. It’s Latin name is Eremobates pallipes and it is a predatory arachnid that is related to spiders called a Solpugid.
• Myth: It is only native to the Middle East Region of the world Not true. They are common in the Southwest and Mexico and yes, Eastern Idaho.
• Myth: They are poisonous and will bite you: Yes and no. First of all, they have no venom glands or pincers, so they are not poisonous. They will, however, bite you with their pincerlike jaws if you threaten or restrain them.
• Myth: They can grow to be up to 2 feet big: No again. You can’t believe everything you read or see on the Internet. Camel spiders are 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long.
• They have four pairs of legs but use the first as feelers. The back three are used for walking.
• They are predators and hunt for food. If found in doors, it usually means they got there by chasing prey. They are solitary hunters. They eat other insects including spiders and flies. They have been known to also eat small lizards. They kill their prey by seizing it and then crushing and ripping with their jaws.
• They are mostly nocturnal but can be found moving around during the day.
• The females lay about 50 eggs in a burrow in the dirt.
• Chemical controls are not recommended because camel spiders are considered beneficial. Caulking and weather stripping entry ways in your home will help prevent them from coming inside. If you catch one indoors, put a jar or container over it, slip a piece of paper underneath, then put it outside.
• They do not make webs and cannot climb.
• Some unlucky people on the reality TV show "Fear Factor" once had the dreaded taks of eating camel spiders to make it to the next round.
Information is from University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, (UC IPM Online) at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7495.html
and Jessica Fultz at Idaho State University.