Some Arizona residents have had the displeasure of encountering odd looking creatures that resemble a mix between a scorpion and a spider. These creepy-crawlies are neither spiders nor scorpions; instead, they belong to the Solifugae order of arachnids, and they are commonly known by a few different names, including “sun spiders,” “wind scorpions” and “camel spiders.” Wind scorpions vary from ⅝ to 1 ¾ of an inch in length, and their bodies are divided into two segments. Small hairs cover their tan to brown colored exterior, and they possess two noticeable eyes and eight legs. More than 1,000 Solifugae species have been documented worldwide, and at least 50 can be found in the southwest US.
Wind scorpions get their common name from their ability to move rapidly in search of prey, which consists of insects, lizards, small rodents, and surprisingly, birds. These arachnids often appear in large numbers on residential lawns and within homes in Arizona, but luckily, wind scorpions do not produce venom. While they may pose a nuisance to homeowners, they do not damage property and are not medically harmful. University of Arizona urban pest management professionals recommend caulking cracks, crevices and other openings on the exterior walls of homes in order to keep wind scorpions from accessing interior living spaces.
Wind scorpions are unique for several reasons, including their two sets of jaws which cover one third of their body length. This makes wind scorpions the largest-jawed creatures of any terrestrial organism relative to their body size. Their jaws are lined with many sharp teeth that come in handy for ripping apart large prey, and while they have a strong bite, they are not considered harmful to humans or pets. Wind scorpions are often found in backyards and on patios congregating around lights, and they are known to venture into homes, garages and sheds, often in pursuit of prey.
Have you ever encountered a wind scorpion on your property?