18 August 2009

Iraq Bugs Colorado Springs

[C]amel spiders from Iraq are showing up in the Colorado Springs area. It is believed that the arachnids are hitching a ride in soldiers’ gear when they return to Fort Carson from the war.

Via the Rocky Mountain Independent.

They eat bugs and sometimes small lizards, and while their bites hurt, they aren't dangerous poisonous to humans. Since they are native to a desert environment, they might survive in Colorado, and there are some small species of this order of arachnids (typically well under two inches in length) that are native to Colorado.

The largest ones in Iraq look like large movie spiders. But, camel spiders (a.k.a. "Solifugae") aren't actually spiders, instead being more closely related to scorpions, and even more closely related to pseudo-scorpions (2mm-8mm bugs that eat booklice, mites and small flies). There are about 900 species in the world, in eleven families that are not extinct. Spiders, scorpions, pseudoscopians and camel spiders are all orders of arachnids (a classification level comparable to insects).

(Linguistic note: While it is common to quibble with calling something that is not an insect a "bug," a more fair description of the term "bug" is to refer to most or all members of the phylum arthropod which includes archnids, insects, centipedes, millipedes, sea spiders, fish lice, wingless hexapods related to insects, tiny deep sea "horseshoe shrimp", sea-monkeys (a.k.a. brine shrimp), tiny seed shrimp, and large crustatians like horseshoe crabs, crabs, lobsters and shrimp.)

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