Sun spiders, also known as camel spiders or wind scorpions, are fascinating creatures that have grabbed the attention of many people. These arachnids can be found in various parts of the world, from deserts to grasslands. In this article, we will uncover everything you need to know about these intriguing yet misunderstood animals.
Despite their alarming appearance, sun spiders are not as dangerous as you may think. While they are fast and possess powerful jaws, they are not venomous and do not pose a significant threat to humans. However, their bites can still be painful and may require medical attention.
As you delve deeper into the world of sun spiders, you will discover their unique features, such as their nocturnal habits and their ability to regulate body temperature. Stay tuned as we explore more about these captivating creatures and help you better understand their role in the ecosystem.
Sun Spider Basics
Sun spiders, also known as solifugae, belong to the class Arachnida in the phylum Arthropoda. Although they are commonly referred to as spiders, sun spiders are not true spiders. They are a unique group of arachnids that share some similarities with spiders and scorpions. The scientific name for sun spiders is Solifugae.
Sun spiders have several distinct features that set them apart from other arachnids:
- They have large, powerful jaws (chelicerae) that they use for catching and crushing prey.
- They have eight legs and two additional leg-like appendages called pedipalps that help them move and sense their environment.
- Unlike true spiders, they do not possess venom glands or silk-producing organs (spinnerets).
The habitat of sun spiders ranges across deserts, grasslands, and other arid regions around the world. They are primarily nocturnal creatures, preferring to hide from the sun during the day and hunt at night. Sun spiders are carnivorous, feeding on a variety of smaller insects and other arthropods.
If you ever encounter a sun spider, remember that they are more likely to be afraid of you than you should be of them. They might look intimidating with their large jaws, but they rarely pose a threat to humans.
Size and Color
Sun spiders, known for their distinctive appearance, come in varying sizes. They typically range from 0.4 inches (1 cm) to 2.7 inches (7 cm) in body length. Size varies depending on the species. As for their color, these creatures can be found in shades of brown and beige, often exhibiting a golden color. Their hue helps them blend seamlessly with their natural environment.
Unique Body Parts
Sun spiders possess several fascinating body parts that set them apart from other arachnids:
- Jaws: Their powerful jaws or pedipalps are equipped with large pincer-like appendages. These jaws allow the Sun spider to grasp and crush its prey with ease.
- Segmented body: The Sun spider’s body is divided into two main sections – the cephalothorax and the opisthosoma (abdomen), creating a visibly segmented appearance.
- Malleoli: These organs on the Sun spider’s abdomen are unique to their species. They serve as sensory structures that help detect vibrations in their surroundings.
Habitat and Distribution
Sun spiders, also known as solifugids or wind scorpions, are found in a variety of habitats around the world. These creatures are particularly common in hot, dry regions, such as:
- Semi-arid environments
- Dry forests
This preference for dry climates allows them to thrive in places like Arizona, Texas, Africa, and India.
Sun spiders have a wide geographic distribution, spanning multiple continents. Here are some examples of where you can find them:
Arizona and Texas: Sun spiders are known to inhabit the arid regions of these two US states.
Africa: Various species of sun spiders are found throughout the African continent, especially in its deserts and semi-arid regions.
India: Sun spiders are commonly found in India due to its diverse habitats and dry climates.
To sum up, sun spiders have a vast range and are found in a wide array of habitats within hot and dry regions globally.
Behavior and Lifestyle
Diet and Predators
Sun spiders are voracious predators that are known to consume various prey. Some of the common prey they hunt include insects, lizards, and even other smaller arachnids. Being nocturnal creatures, these spiders usually hunt at night. Here are some examples:
- Insects: ants, beetles, and moths
- Lizards: small geckos and skinks
- Arachnids: smaller spiders and scorpions
Although sun spiders are skillful hunters, they also have predators of their own. Some animals that prey on them include birds, larger lizards, and even some mammals.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Sun spiders have a fascinating life cycle. The females lay eggs in burrows to protect them from predators. Once the eggs hatch, the spiderlings go through multiple growth stages before becoming adults.
Some key points about sun spider reproduction are:
- Mating typically occurs at night.
- Females can lay several hundred eggs.
- Spiderlings molt and grow in size over time.
In general, sun spiders are fascinating creatures with nocturnal behavior, a voracious appetite, and a unique life cycle. Remember to observe them with caution and respect their space in the natural world.
Relation with Humans
Sun Spiders as Pest
Sun spiders, belonging to the order Solifugae, may occasionally find their way into your home. Though these creatures may appear intimidating, they are actually harmless to humans. Their bites are not venomous, and they primarily feed on insects and other small creatures. However, their presence can still be considered a nuisance.
One way to keep sun spiders away from your house is to maintain a clean environment. Clear away debris, and practice good cleanliness habits. Some additional methods for controlling sun spider populations include:
- Caulking: Seal any gaps and cracks in your home’s foundation and walls.
- Pesticides: Apply chemical treatments around your property, targeting potential entry points.
It’s essential to approach sun spider control responsibly, as excessive use of pesticides can harm other beneficial insects and the environment.
As Exotic Pets
Despite their reputation as pests, some individuals choose to keep sun spiders as exotic pets. If you’re considering the idea, there are a few factors to weigh:
- They’re low-maintenance, requiring only a small enclosure with a controlled environment.
- As insectivores, sun spiders consume pests such as insects and other arthropods.
- They might be difficult to find since they are not as popular as other pet species.
- Their bite, though not venomous, can still be painful and cause discomfort.
In conclusion, the relationship between humans and sun spiders can be viewed through two lenses – as pests and as exotic pets. Understanding how to manage their presence in your home, and the considerations for keeping them as pets, can provide a more harmonious coexistence.
Comparisons and Differences
Comparison with True Spiders
Sun spiders, also known as camel spiders or solpugids, belong to a different order than true spiders. While true spiders belong to the order Araneae, sun spiders are part of the Solifugae order. Here are some notable differences between the two:
- Webs: True spiders are known for their ability to spin webs, whereas sun spiders do not create webs.
- Fangs: Sun spiders have large, powerful jaws called chelicerae, while true spiders have smaller fangs called chelicerae as well.
A few examples of true spider species include:
- Black widow spider
- Orb-weaver spider
- Jumping spider
Comparison with Scorpions
Although they may appear similar, there are key differences between sun scorpions (another name for sun spiders) and true scorpions:
- Venom: Scorpions possess venomous stingers on their tails, while sun spiders do not have venom glands.
- Body structure: Scorpions have a well-defined body divided into two main parts: cephalothorax and abdomen, whereas sun spiders have a fused head and thorax known as cephalothorax.
Here’s a comparison table highlighting some differences between sun spiders, true spiders, and scorpions:
|Feature||Sun Spider||True Spider||Scorpion|
|Venom||No||Varies by species||Yes|
|Body Structure||Cephalothorax||Cephalothorax + Abdomen||Cephalothorax + Abdomen|
In conclusion, although sun spiders might appear similar to true spiders and scorpions, they are a unique group of arachnids with distinct features and characteristics. As you learn more about these fascinating creatures, it’s essential to understand their differences to appreciate their diversity and ecological roles.
Sun Spider in Comics
The Sun Spider character finds its roots in the world of Marvel Comics. One such instance is in the critically acclaimed movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This film introduces a variety of Spider-folk from different universes, including the fan-favorite character Miles Morales.
In addition to Miles Morales, a lesser-known character named Charlotte Webber is another example of someone using spider abilities in a unique way. Charlotte has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition affecting her joints and skin, which requires her to rely on mobility aids. However, as the superhero Sun Spider, she harnesses her powers to become a beacon of hope for people with disabilities.
Sun Spider in Cinema
Sun Spider is not quite as prominent in the world of cinema as it is in the comics. Nonetheless, there are elements of the character present in various productions. For instance, the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse portrays various Spidersonas, unique superheroes inspired by the original Spider-Man.
One particular character that stands out is Silk, a superhero with abilities similar to Spider-Man but with the added aspect of having web-shooters incorporated into her costume. This small detail may remind you of the Sun Spider, showing the influence of the comics on the film.
As for the iconic Sun Spider wheelchair mech, it has yet to see its silver screen debut. Still, the concept of a superhero with a unique mobility aid is both inspiring and groundbreaking, making it ripe for future cinematic exploration.
To sum up, here are some key aspects of Sun Spider in cultural references:
- Connected to Marvel Comics and the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
- Examples: Miles Morales and Charlotte Webber (Sun Spider)
- Unique traits: Sun Spider’s wheelchair mech and Latin-inspired Spidersona
- Comparisons: Spider-Man and Silk with their web-shooters
Keep these points in mind when exploring the exciting world of the Sun Spider and its numerous appearances throughout comics and cinema.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Solpugid: AKA Sand Puppy
Rio Rancho NM Bug
Please help! I do not know what the bug is that you see in the attached pictures. It was crawling around on the floor in our kitchen. I noticed it because my kitty was playing with it. I initially thought it was a scorpion but do not think so anymore. Should I be worried, is it poisioness? Do you think there are more? Help!! Thank you,
Your creature is a Solpugid, sometimes known as a Wind Scorpion or a Sun Spider. Solpugids are Arachnids, so they are related to both spiders and scorpions, but unlike spiders or scorpions which are both venomous, Solpugids do not have venom. They are harmless predators that are very efficient at killing and eating small creatures like their relatives the spiders and scorpions, as well as insects like cockroaches. We have heard that the Solpugid is also called by the much cuter name of Sand Puppy in some parts of the country, but this might cause confusion since we have also heard that Potato Bugs or Jerusalem Crickets, which bear a superficial resemblance to Solpugids, are also called Sand Puppies. Since we do not believe in Spontaneous Generation, there is a good chance that your Solpugid has siblings in the vicinity.
Letter 2 – Sun Spider mistaken for Jerusalem Cricket
Potato Bug in Phoenix, AZ
Location: Phoenix, AZ
May 17, 2011 2:12 pm
Thanks for this site!!! My 4-year-old found this. I thought it was so scary/dangerous looking. So glad I could find it quickly and know what to do. It was on our driveway in the sun moving very slowly and looking almost dead. We put it in a jar and I brought it inside to look up what it was. I assume I am correct in identifying it as a Jerusalem Beetle. After finding out that it’s a digger, I wondered if maybe it was just too hot/dry on my driveway. Took it back outside let it go. It was fine (not dying at all). Here are some of my photos in case you’d like to post them.
i was wrong
Location: Phoenix, AZ
May 17, 2011 2:16 pm
Just sent you some photos of what I thought was a potato bug….looking again, i’m thinking i was wrong. SO….
yikes! what is it??
You are absolutely right that you were wrong, though this was an easy mistake to make. Superficially, the Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug does resemble your Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion, though they are quite different creatures. Your Sun Spider is an Arachnid, not an insect. It is a wonderfully engineered predator, and though its common names imply that it is venomous, it contains no poisons. Though the Sun Spider poses no venomous threat, it has mandibles fully capable of delivering a painful bite if it is carelessly handled. It belongs to the order Solifugae. More scientific common names that reflect the changing taxonomy through the years include Solifugid, Solfugid and Solpugid. Here is a link to information posted to BugGuide.
thanks so much! my husband has lived in phoenix his whole life and had never seen one of these! scary looking, but we had a lot of fun watching it. so glad it’s not venomous.
thanks for your time and help. what a great resource/website.
Letter 3 – Sun Spider
Looks like a spider but…..
Location: Las Vegas, NV
March 16, 2012 4:41 pm
Found this in house and want to know if we should be worried about finding more.
Signature: Darius M.
This creature reminds you of a Spider because it is also an Arachnid. Your creature is a Solifugud and it is commonly called a Sun Spider or a Wind Scorpion, though its classification is different from both spiders and scorpions. Unlike spiders and scorpions, Solifugids do not have any venom and they are considered to be beneficial predators that will rid you house of other less desirable creatures.
Letter 4 – Sun Spider
Location: San Diego, CA
August 16, 2010 10:26 pm
i saw this bug on a night hike in southern california. A desert climate. Along side scorpions.
This harmless Arachnid is commonly called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion, though it is in its own order Solifugae. We are going to try to begin to break ourselves of the habit of calling it a Solpugid, an obsolete term, and begin using the more taxonomically correct name Solifugid. They are formidable predators and larger specimen might be capable of producing a painful bite that draws blood, but they lack venom. See BugGuide for additional information.
Letter 5 – Sun Spider
Large Ant? with arms
Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 9:12 AM
I have been searching the internet to figure out what this bug is, but can’t seem to figure out how to describe it. When I first saw it walking across the floor I thought it was a scorpion. (but obviously not from the photo) It is about an inch long with large body(?abdomen) and 10 appendages. The front two it seems to use to feel along the ground and when at rest it holds them up like claws in a defense-like stance, but I can’t see any pincers on the ends. It has a tear drop shaped head with a single spot on the top that looks like the only “eye” sort of spot on its head. It is also rather furry like a honey bee. I’d really appreciate it if you could tell me what it is and whether it is potentially harmful. I found it indoors in a hangar that was converted into office and lab space, so not well insulated/sealed and with lots of trees and undeveloped areas nearby.
Wondering in CO
This amazing creature is a Solpugid, also commonly called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion though it is neither a spider nor a scorpion. Solpugids do not possess venom, so they are harmless unless you are small enough to be prey. We believe Solpugids might well be the fiercest predators, gram per gram, on the planet.
Letter 6 – Sun Spider from Pakistan
Subject: Is this a spider?
Geographic location of the bug: Lahore, Pakistan
Time: 07:32 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I just found this crawly in my house today and I have no idea what it is. Not even, if it’s a spider or not (can’t figure out what if its extremetimes is a leg and what is an antennae…) It is about 1 cm long and when I captured it under a glass, it kept on holding up its arms/ antennae in defiance, and curled up its tail part (similar to how a scorpion would do it).
Really would like to find out, what this is. Thank you and love from Pakistan.
How you want your letter signed: Juju EA
Dear Juju EA,
Though it is commonly called both a Sun Spider and a Wind Scorpion, this Solifugid is an Arachnid classified in the order Solifugae. Unlike both Spiders and Scorpions, this Solifugid has no venom, nor is it poisonous, so except for a painful bite from a large individual like a Camel Spider, it does not pose a threat to humans.
Letter 7 – Sun Spider or Solpugid
July 29, 2009
I believe this is a “Sunspider” which is actually not a spider at all. What struck me was how aggressive they are. This one chased me around the garage, literally, and once under a cup, ran at my finger or my camera for ~30 minutes. He’s have bit me at least 1000x if I’d let him out. The last photo (3011) is him lunging at my finger (dark spot at top of photo). Angry little bug.
Todd in AZ
NE Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Thanks for sending in your awesome images Todd. Solpugids or Sun Spiders are very adept and aggressive hunters, but thankfully, they do not have venom so they will not harm you. We cannot recall ever getting a report of anyone who has even been bitten, though your photos indicate that could be a possibility. We still maintain that they are harmless but aggressive hunters who will do far more good alive eating cockroaches and other unwanted annoyances in the home than they will dead.
Letter 8 – Sun Spider from South Africa: Possible Case of Unnecessary Carnage
What IS it??
Location: Polokwane, South Africa
December 21, 2011 3:29 pm
This was in our house. Ran quickly. Looks like a huge ant but has 8 legs like a spider.
This is a species of Solifugid, a member of the Arachnid order Solifugae. Though they are related to both Spiders and Scorpions, Solifugids do not have venom and they are not considered dangerous to humans. Solifugids are sometimes called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions. Solifugids are generally found in arid climates and species from the Middle East which are known as Camel Spiders can grow quite large. It appears that your Solifugid might have been smashed as evidenced by what appears to be bodily fluids at the end of the abdomen. If this is the case, we would like to educate you regarding the benefits of this harmless, nocturnal hunter. Though they appear to be frightening, Solifugids are not harmful to human or pets, unless you keep small arthropods as pets. It is possible that a Solifugid might bite a human if they are carelessly handled, but since there is no venom involved, the bite is harmless. If they are present in or near your home, Solifugids will help to control the population of Cockroaches and other creatures that you might find undesirable.
Letter 9 – Solpugid
Orange Legged Bug
Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 8:45 PM
Please help. I find these creepy things in my basement in the springtime and can’t stand it. I have no idea what it is and they seem to be somewhat aggressive.
Laurie, Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, CO
This is a harmless (unless you are a small creature) Solpugid, a non-venomous relative of spiders and scorpions. Solpugids are fierce predators that will keep your house free of cockroaches and other undesirable intruders. They are sometimes called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions.
Letter 10 – Solpugid
WHAT IS THIS???
August 1, 2009
I found this in my bathroom, alone, no other bugs near it. It was walking alone along the floor. It is terrifying, giant, and pure evil. It has jaws that could rip a man in two. ( the whole bug is just over an inch long)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Luckily, you are too large to be considered prey for the Solpugid which is perfectly harmless to humans as it contains no venom. The same claim cannot be made to creatures small enough to be consumed. Here is Charles Hogue’s vivid description of the feeding habits of a Solpugid as quoted from his awesome book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin: “All of our species are nocturnal, wandering by night in search of the small invertebrate animals that are their prey. They are extremely voracious carnivores and crush and tear captive organisms to shreds with their huge jaws.” You need not fear your home being invaded by cockroaches if you allow the Solpugid to prowl around at night. Solpugids are commonly called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions, and species from the Middle East, which are considerably larger than our North American species, are called Camel Spiders. There is much misinformation online regarding Camel Spiders. Somewhere, buried in our archives, we even have the notorious image that was making internet rounds many years ago.
Letter 11 – Bug of the Month June 2013: Sun Spider
Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: San Marcos, CA
May 29, 2013 10:04 pm
I found this guy crawling up the wall in my house. It’s about 3/4 inch long and liked to make quick, jumpy movements. Thanks for the ID, bugman!
This nonvenomous arachnid is a Solifugid, commonly called a Sun Spider or a Wind Scorpion, though it is neither a spider nor a scorpion. Despite not having venom, they are fierce predators that can capture and dispatch large prey. Even though they are perfectly harmless, the frightening appearance of Solifugids leads to much Unnecessary Carnage. We are tagging your entry as the Bug of the Month for June.
Letter 12 – Testing the Literacy of a Solpugid
whats that bug
I found this bug outside my house on the wall. so I knocked it down with a broom to the ground. It freaked me out when it lifted his two front legs up and tried to bite the broom. I think it is a non tail scorpion family or part of the potato bug family not sure, because we have those here in Rio Rico. It also had the clamping fangs in the front like a pinching bug.
This is a Solpugid, also commonly called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion, and in some locations, a Sand Puppy. They are harmless predators. You might get a painful nip, but they have no venom. You photo is quite amusing.
Letter 13 – Solpugid
Really Freaky Thing
I didn’t have a photo the first time I emailed you last week and now I do, so I’m hoping you can help. We live in Sacramento, CA near a river. This creepy crawly was found in my bedroom…Yikes! I’ve had it in a jar for a few days, and it has eaten once. I fed it some kind of a grub worm and this guy inhaled it. Since then, I’ve tried other bugs but it’s not taking them. Can you help?
PS. You have a fascinating website. My family loves it. Thanks for you expertise.
You have a Solpugid for a pet. They are sometimes called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions, though they are neither. They are not venomous hence harmless to people,but they are vicious hunters, ripping their prey, small arthropods, to shreds.
Letter 14 – Solpugid
Hi, This is a spider that my boyfriend found in our garage. We live in Cave Creek, Arizona. The body was about a centimeter long. We thought it was unusual. Can you identify it?
Your spider is not really a spider, but a Solpugid, sometimes called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions, though they are neither spiders nor scorpions. They are vicious hunters, but are harmless to people since they do not have venom.
Letter 15 – Masked Hunter and Solpugid
First, let me thank you for your excellent site. I had found a strange little critter in my home office and wondered what it might be. I found it on your site after many others had let me down. It turns out to be a Masked Hunter". Quite the strange little critter. I thought you might get a kick out of seeing some of the photos I’ve taken of both that "masked hunter" and a solfugid which was out on a parking lot near my office.
Here’s the link.
Mostly these photos have been another excuse to play with my digital camera, and the originals of many are in higher resolution than that shown on the site. If you have any use for some of these photos, just let me know.
Thanks again for your informative site.
Thanks for the photos as well as the advertisement on your site. The story on your site about finding the Masked Hunter on the roll of toilet paper is quite amusing. Sadly, we are currently down, yet again, due to heavy traffic. We will post your photos and letter as soon as September arrives.
Letter 16 – Two Solpugids: Tanonomy Assistance Requested
July 31, 2009
Both of these were found in April in Mecca, California (just north of the Salton Sea). I know they’re Solifugae, but can you give me any more specifics? The first was much bulkier than the second.
Though we do not feel confident trying to properly identify you two Solpugids, commonly called Sun Spider or Wind Scorpions, we will post your photos in the hope that one of our readers is able to distinguish the different families, genera or species. We never go beyond the order Solifugae on them, though BugGuide: does have additional taxonomy, but not much in the way of guidelines.
Letter 17 – Solpugid Comparison
Solpugid question f/u — 2-image collage (large file) Inbox X
Denny Schreffler to me
show details 10:02 PM (5 hours ago)
June 14, 2010
As a follow up to a submittal from a couple of weeks ago regarding two distinct types of Solpugids here in southern Arizona (desert, about 3,000’) in which I offered the inexpert opinion that, “the critters which are stockier, have bigger heads, and shorter pedipalps could be in the Subfamily Eremobatinae (Family Eremobatidae) while the slimmer ones with longer palps could be in the Subfamily Therobatinae (same family),” I encountered both types last evening in the same place at the same time.
My recollection from seeing the much larger type (of which I saw only one) last summer was that it was as big as a small mouse — in fact, when I first saw it, I thought that it was a mouse — running on a wall.
The attached 2-image collage is closely representative of the size differential between the two types. I first noticed the smaller one and was struck by the dark markings, especially the pedipalps. When I tried to persuade him to move to a location that might be more photogenic, he skittered about two feet away and ran right into Monstro, who is as big as a mouse.
I’ve seen and photographed dozens of the smaller variety this (otherwise, so far, relatively bugless) summer so, in my neighborhood, the larger type is encountered much less frequently.
Any enlightenment from your readers or available experts would be appreciated.
Looking forward to the book!
[personal non-post – Where in Ohio? Have you ever been there for the 17-Year Cicadas? I grew up in North Central Ohio where we’d have lots of cicadas for a little while every summer, and I experienced a 17-year eruption in Cincinnati in 1969 or ’70.]
You letter is the perfect letter to leave town right after posting. We don’t have an answer regarding the taxonomy of the two Solpugids in question, and we cannot take the time to research this at the moment because we awoke early so that we can write a piece about fresh peaches and peach cobbler for our local Mt Washington Homeowners Alliance newsletter. We can tell you that home in Ohio is a small city called Campbell which is just east of Youngstown and about 6 miles west of the Pennsylvania border. We lived through the 17 Year Cicada population explosion of which you write. At the age of 12 or 13, we golfed in a youth league and there were millions of Cicadas in the trees at Rolling Hills Golf Course. The din was ear splitting. We filled up the golf bag with Cicadas and brought them home because they didn’t emerge in nearby Campbell.
Letter 18 – Solpugid: Two emails arrive back to back
Unknown Agressive bug
Location: So Cal Inland Area
July 26, 2010 12:56 am
While working security at a medical bldg I came across an unknown bug. It was tan/brown in color, body long-thin about 2 inchs. It had 6 legs about 1-1/2 inch long, and 2 feelers about 1-1/2 inch long (about twice as thick as the legs). It moved rather quickly. It stopped in a dark shadow where I took the picture using my cell camera and a flashlight (Sorry bad photo). As soon as I turned on the flashlight it ran fast in the direction of my feet. I followed it for a short time. When it came into contact with other bugs (2 cockroaches, and 1 blackwidow) it would atack and kill them, then move on. Very agressive, a I’ve never seen it before. Best described as a very large ant looking type.
Insect or Arachnid or Scorpion?
Location: Fort Collins, CO
July 26, 2010 2:33 am
I live in Fort Collins, Colorado, and one summer day, this odd bug came crawling at a rather quick speed across my living room carpet. I am beyond curious to know what kind of creature it is, and how/why I have not seen one before or since. It’s about an inch and a half long, was very fast an aggressive when captured, and has eight legs…very odd indeed. What is it and what else is there to know about it?
Andy in CO
Dear Robert and Andy,
You have both submitted nice descriptive letters describing the behavior of a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion in the order Solifugae. Older texts refer to them as Solpugids, and newer texts use the more taxonomically accurate name Solifugid. These are predatory arachnids that do not possess venom, unlike either spiders or scorpions, other arachnids to which they are often compared. We probably have over fifty letters with images of Solpugids that we have received over the years posted to our site. You can read more about Solpugids on our site as well as on BugGuide. Since both of your letters arrived the same day and they are adjacent in our email box, we are posting them together.
Letter 19 – Sun Spider eats Beetle
For years I had thought that Solpugids were ‘Vinegaroons’ because when we moved up here (Mojave Desert) that is what we were told. We were also told that they if you were biten by one, you’d taste vinegar for a week or two. I know better now and I am very, very jealous that the Solpugids you have posted on your site are bigger than any of the ones I have seen. I usually only see babies/teens. I was out an hour ago looking at a baby Mantis when I saw this fight going on between a baby Solpugid and some kind of beetle. Don’t know if you will read this but thought you might enjoy this picture anyway. I felt bad for that beetle.
Please don’t have Solpugid envy. Your photo is, we believe, the first we have received of a Solpugid eating. We will also post your image to our Food Chain section. We think the prey is a Ground Beetle, but the photo hasn’t enough detail to be certain.
Letter 20 – Sun Spider
what is this?
Found in a garage in victorville , ca. Thanks
Jose "Joe" Fernandez
Your submission has us a bit puzzled. You are requesting an identification, but your photo was titled Vigaroon. There is a creature known as a Vinegarone, but this is not it. You have a Solpugid, commonly called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion. They are harmless predators with strong jaws but no venom.
Letter 21 – Sun Spider
Still shivering at the sight of it!
We found this walking around our house and thought it was a scorpion. FREAKY!!! It acted very agressive. I think I saw it posted on your site that it was a: "Solpugid… a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion, and … Sand Puppy." Anyway–In addition to the 2 giant fangs (you said aren’t poisonous), It has 8 legs & 2 other arms or things that look like they are reaching up to kill you! What are those and what do they do? Thanks
Queen Creek, AZ (August 2007)
We are happy to hear you were able to identify your Solpugid on our website. The Pedipalps you mention are described in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin by Charles Hogue: “Suckers at the tip of each of the two slender appendages (the pedipalps) at the front of the body enable the sun spider to climb smooth surfaces – even glass – and also are used in feeding, drinking, and battling.” You should be thankful you are not two inches tall.
Letter 22 – Jaws of a Sun Spider
Found a Bug??? Need some help to identify.
This bug was found in Dickinson North Dakota at our community center ( Pool, Workout area etc,). Many people come to work-out. Found it in June of this year. The bug is about an inch long maybe a little more, can move quickly, has two big fealer "arms’ in front that are alway moving, almost if it was or is blind. p.s. I no longer have the bug. Attached are two pictures Hope you can help identify the bug:
What awesome images of a Solpugid you have. We are convinced the close-up of the jaws will freak a few readers out. Solpugids are also called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions, and they are harmless unless you are a small arthropod.
(08/08/2006) Jaws of a Sun Spider
I just wanted to comment on how awesome that picture of the Sun Spider’s gaping jaws is! That had to be a really lucky shot! I also wanted to share two pictures of a Sun Spider I caught in my house (Phoenix area, AZ) the same day you posted those pictures. Hope you like them!
Letter 23 – Sun Spider
Solpugid gives you his Thanks!
Just wanted to let you know I am so very thankful for your site. As a newly single mom of 3 kids I have now taken over the BUG duties. My kitten found this guy in the house tonight, and not wanting to kill something I didn’t know about I caught it and took it outside where I took this picture. Thank goodness I found your site and now know what this solpugid is. I am relieved to know I didn’t harm a great hunter, no matter how ugly it is! He will now help get rid of some more of the undesirables in the neighborhood! LOL! Like a personal bodyguard against the bad bugs! He could intimidate me!! Thanks again!
We must say that we qre quite impressed you possessed the wherewithall to research the identity of your Solpugid after discovering it in your home, but before doing it harm. It is quite intimidating looking and most people would kill first and question later. We are so happy we could be of service to you and your Solpugid, also known as a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion. As you have indicated, they are fierce and fearless hunters, but thankfully, we humans, due to our size, are not on their menu. Woe the day that big government harnesses the gram per gram hunting potential of Solpugids and unleashes it as a weapon of mass destruction.
Letter 24 – Solpugid or Sun Spider
what type of bug is this
Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 8:12 PM
i was at the desert when i went to go into my pocket and some thing bit me. i took off my pants and this 8 leg big head and 4inch long can you please tell me what this bug is?
desert southern californa
We have received numerous letters from the American Southwest over the years requesting the identification of Solpugids or Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions or Sand Puppies. We have always said that they are harmless. Then images of related species from the Middle East known as Camel Spiders started circulating on the internet along with exaggerated accounts of their behavior. We still maintain that Solpugids in North America are harmless since they have no venom. They do have formidable jaws and they could bite, which is why we are posting your letter. Middle Eastern species are much larger and the bite is probably painful, but because of the absence of venom, it is still basically harmless. You didn’t really elaborate on the nature of your bite and we are curious if it was painful, broke the skin, or drew blood, or was it merely a noticeable nip?
the bite did not broke the skin but it felt like a pinch like someone pinch you really hard no blood just scaryed me.
Letter 25 – Solpugid or Sun Spider
Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 6:39 AM
Just thought I would tell you Thank you for your site !!
I found this in my son’s towel when i was getting him out of the bath, we caught it and looked it up on the comp. what it was. Thanks to you it’s back out side where it can kill other bug I dont want in the house .
Years ago, when our website didn’t exist and What’s That Bug? was a column in a fledgling zine called American Homebody, people like you were our target audience. We wanted to make homemakers more aware of the crawling creatures they would encounter around the house and to educate them to the beneficial natures of many of the creatures they might otherwise squash or exterminate. We are happy your harmless, predatory Solpugid, AKA Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion, is now back in the wild. Thanks for your letter.
Letter 26 – Sun Spider Eats in Captivity
Location: Las Vegas
August 22, 2010 11:18 am
Hi guys. I have noticed that you don’t have many pics of sun spiders eating so I decided to send you a couple of pics. I have one that I captured in my backyard here in North Las Vegas and it has no problem eating in captivity. One pic is it feasting on a cicada and the other one is it eating a very much larger grasshopper.
Thank you for providing us with these images of a Sun Spider or Windscorpion in the order Solifugae feeding on a Cicada and a Katydid in captivity. Sun Spiders are amazingly adept hunters that will probably eat anything they are able to catch, including small lizards and young mice, though their normal diet would consist of small arthropods. Though Cicadas and Katydids are Arthropods, they do not normally crawl in the ground, sticking to trees and shrubs instead, so they probably do not contribute significantly to a wild Solifugid’s diet.
Letter 27 – Sun Spider from Kenya
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 22, 2010 5:30 am
More spider close-ups from Kenya!
Picture 3: Technically not a spider – A Sun-Spider, Red Roman, Solifuge, etc. Usually quite large and scary-looking, this particular guy was only about 2cm long. Catalogues and field guides for solifuges are hard to find. The best guess I can come up with is Family Solpugidae, but I’m far from sure.
With our limited scientific background, we don’t even attempt to classify Sun Spider, AKA Wind Scorpions, beyond the level of the order Solifugae. We are intrigued with the common name Red Roman that you have provided as it is a new term for us.
Letter 28 – Sun Spider
what the hell is this?!?!?!
Location: so cal
May 28, 2011 1:10 am
what the hell is this?!?!?!
predatory and harmless Solifugid
Doesn’t look harmless….. Lol
Well, not at all harmless if one is a Cockroach. A Solifugid will keep your kitchen free of Cockroaches and most other things you might not want there.
good to know, thank you very much for your help!!!
We are only able to post a small percentage of the identification requests we receive, though we do provide short responses like this example to as many requests as time will allow. Occasionally the dialog that results from our short response gives cause to post the identification request on our site, like this example. Closer inspection of the photograph indicates that there is debris covering this Solifugid, which leads us to believe it may have succumbed to Unnecessary Carnage. We hope our further clarification has ensured the survival of any future Solifugids that Dave encounters.
now i feel bad for smashing the little guy 🙁 next time i run into one of them, they’ll be relocated outside to eat all the other bugs around the house.
Letter 29 – Sun Spider
jerusalem cricket like bug/spider/scorpion
Location: Central Oregon (Redmond)
July 22, 2011 12:09 am
Hello mr. Bugman,
I am just about as tolerable of bugs as they come but this guy made me jump. It moves very fast and is colored like a jerusalem cricket but has pincer like appendages in the front but without claws. It also has eight additional legs, excluding the pincers. It also has four ”fangs” two on top and bottom. It hasalso two body segments the rear one being longer, about 1/2 an inch. Let me know if you need more info.
Your description of a Solifugid is so thorough, we could have identified it without a photo. Common names for the Solifugid include Sun Spider and Wind Scorpion, and like its arachnid relatives, Solifugids are predators, but unlike those arachnids, Solifugids do not have venom, which is lucky for humans as they are such fierce predators. Should a Solifugid try to bite a human, it would probably hurt, and possibly even draw blood, however, since they do not have venom, they should be considered harmless despite a frightening appearance.
Letter 30 – Sun Spider
Subject: Sun spider – carnage averted
June 13, 2012 12:30 am
Found a sun spider on my window screen tonight in Reno, NV. Didn’t know what it was, so I came to your site to help me identify it. I try to live in harmony with insects, spiders, etc. whenever possible and thanks to the information in your “Unnecessary Carnage” section, I knew it was harmless and relocated it to an area away from my house. Carnage averted. Carry on with the good work.
Thanks for both your kind letter and your kind treatment of the Sun Spider or Solifugid. We are posting a photo from our archives with your letter to illustrate just how frightening looking these harmless creatures appear.
Letter 31 – Sun Spider
Subject: I want to know what this is!
Location: U.S. New Mexico
June 23, 2012 1:23 am
My friend found this and we dont know what it is. hoping you can help?
This arachnid is a Solifugid, commonly called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion, but unlike their distantly related namesakes, Solifugids do not have venom so they pose no threat to humans. They are fierce hunters though, and any small insects, arthropods and even vertebrates can be considered prey.
Letter 32 – Sun Spider
Subject: Ant-like creature
Location: Costa Rica
November 24, 2013 9:15 pm
My sister had this fall on her neck while she was in bed in Costa Rica. Besides being the creepiest thing to fall on one’s neck while one is in bed, what is it?
This is a Solifugid, commonly called a Sun Spider or a Wind Scorpion. They do not have venom and they are not considered dangerous, however, they have strong jaws and they might deliver a painful bite.
Letter 33 – Solifugid, AKA Sun Spider
Subject: Orange bug in Texas
Location: Austin, TX
September 28, 2016 6:48 am
Hello. I found a bug which looks like an ant with big abdomen and large antennae. Soft bodied. Not sure what this is? (See image). Can you identify?
Signature: Kevin Urban
This is a Solifugid, a predatory Arachnid that is sometimes called a Sun Spider or a Wind Scorpion, though it is not closely related to either. Solifugids differ from both Spiders and Scorpions in that they have no poison or venom, hence they are considered harmless to people, though it is possible that a bite might occur after an encounter with a large individual. What you have mistaken for antennae are actually pedipalps, a pair of appendages defined on BugGuide as being: ” the second set of mouthpart-like appendages in arachnids (spiders and allies). Male spiders have the last segments modified into organs for the transfer of sperm.” BugGuide describes Solifugids as being: “Eight-legged, somewhat scorpion-like, but lacking the tail. Elongated pedipalps look like an extra set of legs, but are used as sensory organs, similar to antennae.”
Awesome. Thanks for the ID. I know bugs but this was new to me.
Appreciate your help.
Letter 34 – Solifugid or Sun Spider
Subject: Large grey fuzzy bug
Location: Pecos, TX
August 5, 2017 6:22 pm
What is this? Seen in West Texas near Pecos around 8:30pm in August. Was hiding under some clothes on the ground. Looked like 2″-3″ long and I’m pretty sure it growled.
This is a non-venomous, predatory Arachnid known as a Solifugid, sometimes called a Sun Spider or Wind Scorpion. Though like Spiders and Scorpions, it is classified as an Arachnid, unlike its relatives, the Solifugid has no venom, so it is harmless, though a large individual might bite if carelessly handled. Considerably larger relatives in the Middle East are known as Camel Spiders.