Camel spiders are mostly nocturnal, and seek shade during the day.
It was this behavior which led coalition soldiers in the 2003 invasion
of Iraq to think these arachnids were attacking them. In reality,
they were merely moving toward the newly available shade provided
by the soldiers' presence. The absence of shade sends them away.
They are the subject of many myths and exaggerations about their
size, speed, behaviour, appetite, and lethality. They are not especially
large, the biggest having a legspan of perhaps 5 inches, and although
they are fast on land compared to other invertebrates (the fastest
can run perhaps 10 miles per hour), members of this order of Arachnidae
apparently have no venom and do not spin webs.
In the Middle East, it is common belief among American soldiers
stationed there that camel spiders will feed on living human flesh.
The story goes that the creature will inject some anaesthetizing
venom into the exposed skin of its sleeping victim, then feed voraciously,
leaving the victim to awaken with a gaping wound. Camel spiders,
however, do not produce such an anaesthetic, and, like most creatures
with any sort of survival instinct, they do not attack prey larger
than themselves unless threatened.
Due to their bizarre appearance and the fact that they produce
a hissing sound when they feel threatened, many people are startled
or even afraid of them. However, the greatest threat they pose to
humans is their bite in self-defense when one tries to handle them.
There is no chance of death directly caused by the bite, but, due
to the strong muscles of their chelicerae, they can produce a proportionately
large, ragged wound which is prone to infection.
Reproduction can involve direct or indirect sperm transfer; when
indirect, the male emits a spermatophore on the ground and then
inserts it in the female's genital pore.
All text is available under the terms
of the GNU Free Documentation License