Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 9, 2011

Wind Scorpion 2

This photo of a wind scorpion comes from an exterminator's website.

What the heck is a wind scorpion?!? Sorry to disappoint, but they aren’t scorpions at all. They are in the class Arachnida — spiders, ticks, mites, and true scorpions. Sometimes they’re called “sun spiders,” and in the Middle East “camel spiders” because of their humped profile. Their jaws can reach up to a third of their body length. As Mark Moffett describes graphically in his July 2004 National Geographic article: “Wielding those jaws like a combination pincer and knife, they chew their victims into pulp with a sawing motion. Then they exude an enzyme that liquifies the  flesh, which they suck into their stomachs.” Mm-m-m-m!

Apparently a wind scorpion will take on lizards, snakes, small birds, rodents. They weigh up to two ounces (!) and have leg spans up to five inches. Fearless, they are equipped with jaws larger in proportion to its body size than almost any other animal on Earth. Their sex lives are pretty vicious and dangerous, often with the male ending up as a meal. The July 2004 issue of National Geographic has a lively article if you want nightmare-inducing close-up photos of these fascinating creatures, or you can look here if you dare.

While the wind scorpion has been designated the official arachnid of the war in Iraq, here in Utah I am sure I’ve walked right by them numerous times. Because they are nocturnal and I am not, I never get to see them even though they and I occupy the same habitat. That makes me a little sad, since I would like to meet one… from a distance.

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