Earth Notes: Wind Scorpions

Apr 18, 2018

The wind scorpion can be terrifying, both in looks and behavior. But despite the common name, it’s actually not a scorpion or a true spider.

Wind scorpion
Credit Gary Alpert

It’s an arachnid that moves erratically and at very high speed—and with an unequalled ability to capture prey. Crickets, spiders, and other denizens of the night in arid and sandy soils are all targets, quickly dispatched. 

Wind scorpions range from light yellow to dirty brown in color, and from a quarter-inch to three inches long. They have two sets of “jaws” that account for almost a third of their body length—the largest jaws for their size of any terrestrial invertebrate. Each pair of jaws has a fixed upper half and a bottom half armed with teeth that rip prey into small pieces.

Wind scorpions can inflict a strong bite—but the good news is they don’t have a stinger or venom, so pose no real danger to people or pets.

But because they look so much like scorpions, these nonpoisonous creatures are repulsive to most of us. You may see large numbers of them in your backyard and near night lights. They’ll also enter homes, garages, and patios—wherever their never-ending search for something to eat takes them. 

Wind scorpions are most everyone’s idea of the perfect star in a horror film. So there’s always a sigh of relief when they disappear back under a rock.