You might have heard a lot about giant camel spiders in the middle east. Thankfully, they are just myths. So, what is a camel spider like in reality? Let’s find out.
Have you ever encountered a story that gets popular over social media and suddenly turns into an urban legend that almost everyone is talking about?
One such thing happened during the Afghan war. A few soldiers claimed (jokingly, perhaps) that the deserts of the middle east have giant camel spiders that are so poisonous they can kill a horse or camel.
But are these stories true? Let us find out in this article about camel spiders.
Are Camel Spiders Real?
Camel spiders are real, and they exist in different corners of the world.
However, there are certain myths and stories where these spiders that make them out to be something from horror tales.
Thankfully, camel spiders are not what they are made out to be. In fact, they are not even real spiders – they are from a family called Solpugids.
There is a myth that they can grow up to 2 feet in size and are poisonous enough to kill a big horse or camel.
In reality, camel spiders show an average growth of 6-8 inches, and they are not poisonous at all. Also, some stories point out that camel spiders lay eggs under the stomachs of camels.
This is entirely wrong; they lay their eggs in the desert sand.
Moreover, these bugs are said to be able to tear apart the flesh of large animals like camels, which is partially true.
Camel spiders have big jaws that are like pliers; they use them for hunting and tearing the prey to insert digestive juices, which liquefy the insides of the hunted insect.
However, what’s wrong is the size of the prey – camel spiders aren’t capable of hunting camels or horses. They can kill small desert animals like lizards and rodents, but that’s about it.
What Do They Look Like?
Camel spiders are (comparatively) bigger than other spiders and can grow up to 8 inches in length.
They have a tan-colored body that helps them to merge well with the surroundings of the desert. This keeps them secure from predators.
They have tiny hairs on their body, which enable them to insulate themselves against the deadly desert heat.
How Fast Do They Run?
Camel spiders are fast, but they are not as fast as they are portrayed in the myths.
Since they have long pairs of legs, they can quickly move through desert regions at around 10 miles per hour.
This is actually quite fast compared to their body size, but not fast enough to run with camels and humans and hunt them down.
Another myth is that they scream at a high pitch as they run towards their hunt – which is again totally false. Camel spiders cannot scream.
Why Are They Called Camel Spiders?
Camel spiders get their names from the different myths and stories revolving around them, which say that they are so powerful that they can kill a giant camel.
People also believe that camel spiders lay eggs under the stomachs of camels. As you have read in the above sections of the article, none of these statements are true.
They are not poisonous and are certainly not capable of killing big animals like camels.
These bugs usually hunt small insects, lizards, and small snakes. Also, they lay eggs in the desert soil, not under some camel’s skin.
You should know that camel spiders have different names, including wind scorpions, sun spiders, and more.
Are They Actually Spiders?
Camel spiders are not true spiders; they are a type of solpugid. These insects show a combination of different traits that are seen in spiders and scorpions.
Unlike normal spiders, camel spiders don’t have silk and a venom gland.
They also have a separate opisthosoma similar to scorpions, but it lacks a long tail with a stinger. Like most carnivorous spiders, they don’t use venom to kill their prey.
They use their sharp jaws to tear the hunt and fill it with digestive juices that liquefy the contents of the body.
Are They Dangerous To Humans?
Camel spiders are considered a threat to humans. These spiders may look intimidating, but they are not poisonous.
However, since they have sharp jaws, they can deliver painful bites. Camel spider bites can cause severe bleeding, swelling, and irritation.
Also, if the wound is not cleaned properly, it can lead to a severe infection.
Therefore if a camel spider ever bites you, clean the wound with water and apply antibiotic ointment. Once that is done, cover it with a clean bandage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many eyes does a camel spider have?
The camel spider has two large black eyes that are situated at the top of their heads. They also have four pairs of legs, but it looks like five at first glance. This is because they have two leg-like appendages that are actually sensory organs.
What are camel spiders afraid of?
Camel spiders usually don’t like areas with cold climates, which is why they are mostly found in the eastern desert and the southwestern parts of the United States.
On top of that, they are afraid of their predators, which are usually nocturnal creatures like toads, scorpions, and bat
Do camel spiders breathe?
Yes, camel spiders breathe, but unlike other spiders, they use a trachea for breathing. This enables them to intake oxygen faster.
Since these insects are pursuit predators, this breathing pattern and technique help to chase down the prey more efficiently.
What kills a camel spider?
Creatures like toads, scorpions, and bats are some of the top predators of the camel spider. Camel spiders also don’t prefer to live in regions with colder climates.
This is why they thrive in the Middle Eastern deserts, southwest regions of the US, and some parts of Mexico – they can only survive in desert regions.
Ever since the Afgan war, the stories of giant and deadly camel spiders roaming in the deserts started growing more and more popular.
With time the number of myths began increasing as well, but it is essential to know the absolute truth behind these creatures.
We hope this article busted the myths revolving around this magnificent creature. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
During and after the war in the middle east, there were several queries to us regarding these camel spiders, their size, and the many myths surrounding them.
Please go through the email below from one of our readers who shared his views on these spiders and the larger-than-life image they had acquired.
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 – More on the Camel Spider
I noticed there was a rather heated debate about the camel spider. I’ve seen this photo making the rounds, but I doubt highly that it is an intentional hoax on the part of the photographer. Matt Drudge posted it on his news site, with his usual sensational flair, and all of a sudden people started reporting about this bug the size of a poodle. Your assumption about optics is no doubt correct. The bug is being held by a pair of pliers and the arm appearing in the top right corner is clearly protruding from what is obviously the jacket sleeve of a slightly bent-over soldier trying to get a closer look without touching. With a bit of inspection, the clues to scale are there. Even to the photographic layman’s eye, it’s pretty clear this monster is about six inches long — "
the size of a coffee cup saucer" — which is still pretty damned impressive. If this thing was three-feet long as some viewers have thought, this soldier would be eyeing it at the end of a bayonette, not the tip of a pair of pliers. For a comparison, there is another photo here. When viewed next to the supposed "hoax" photo, it is clear that the gigantic Paul Verhoevian specimen is perhaps slightly larger than the very believably sized one below, but not by much. It’s just a more impressive photo and who can fault them for that?
Thank you for your kind letter John. We were raked over the coals for printing that image, though it is a damn impressive photo. We try to teach our beginning photography students about the power of the image, and that is a great example of fooling the eye through creative use of scale. We do love sensationalism though.