The camel spiders are found in Africa, North America, South America and Europe. There are over 1100 species. They have four pairs of legs and what seems to be a fifth pair right at the beginning of the jaws. These are called pedipalps and are actually sensory organs, they help channel prey to the jaws. The body is divided distinctly in two sections like ticks, spiders, scorpions, mites, but these critters are not true spiders, they are in the animal order solifugae. They live in dry climates. They have a leg span of approximately 6 to 7 inches and body length up to 15 centimeters.
They are quite aggressive but have no venom. When they feel threatened they rear back and rub the jaws together producing a rasping, hissing noise. This is known as stridulation.
Camel spiders are mostly nocturnal and top predators. During the day they like to hide under rocks, logs and in underground burrows to keep away from the desert sun. They mostly live in dry climates. They prey on anything from termites, beetles, wasps, silverfish, scorpions to spiders and other solifugids. They will even cannibalize each other. Ants are the one thing it seems they don’t have a taste for. The camel spider will just kill the ants and not eat them.
How they hunt
Many arachnids modus operandi is to just sit and wait for prey to blunder into their traps and webs. Camel spiders are different. They are fast and quite indefatigable. They will run and keep running and when they meet a potential meal they will use those humongous jaws to cut them up, smear enzymes into the injuries and suck out the liquefied insides. They have to eat a lot to keep up their high rate of metabolism.
When a camel spider encounters something that moves it will rear up and begin feeling out the object with its pedipalps which have a friction adhesive quality. This enables the camel spider to climb even a smooth glass surface and latch on to their prey. It is curtains for the prey when that happens.
When mating, the male will caress the female with his pedipalps. The female falls into a trance like state. Next the male pushes his mandibles all the way into the genital opening of the female and moves them violently back and forth just like when he is feeding and then he pulls out. At this juncture the male of some species lay a packet of sperm on the ground. Using his jaws he will insert the sperm packet into the female’s genitals. In other species the male will briefly push his genital opening on to the orifice of the female genitals.
If there is any deviation in whatever manner from this sequence the female awakens from her hypnotic state looking to raise hell. She will twist and thrash around until she is free from the male. Then she will go after the male bite, kill and eat him.