We had a visit this evening from a rather healthy looking Solifugid (aka camel spider, wind scorpion, sun spider, though I always knew them as a “sun scorpions”) which I caught after seeing it scurrying across our kitchen floor.
Solifugids are arachnids related to spiders and true scorpions and like scorpions seem to be largely nocturnal. We get them in the house not too infrequently (much to my wife’s dismay) but this was a larger specimen than usual. In fact it is probably one of the larger I’ve seen in this area of So. Cal..
Despite their fearsome appearance they’re relatively harmless as they lack venom of any kind. However I imagine that they could inflict a rather nasty bite in self defense with those chelicerae (mouth parts).
However impressive this individual might be for around here it is still relatively small compared to some pictures I’ve seen of some old world species encountered by U.S. troops stationed in the middle east.
Just another night in the Britain household…
Some web sites on Solifugids:
- The Arachnid Order Solifugae
- Camel Spiders
- Order Solifugae on BugGuide
I used to keep these in jars as a kid. They are fun to watch and since they don’t have venom their method of chewing up their prey alive is pretty fascinating.
So did I. I used to like feeding earwigs to them, which they seemed to have a special technique for eating.
First the sun scorpion would snip of the earwigs pincher and then they would turn the earwigs around so that the head was facing away with the now gaping abdomen towards the sun scorpion, like some sort of food tube.
Then the sun scorpion would munch its way down the body leaving the head for last, with the earwig struggling the whole time trying to escape.
It was brutal. But that’s nature for you.