Man Makes Move; Meanwhile, Mrs. Munches
Not even mealtime stood in the way when this male camel spider moved in for the thrill. As you can see in this video clip caught by Jessie Story, the male was completely oblivious to the fact that the female was otherwise occupied at the time of his approach.
Not that he would have minded; camel spider mating tends to be rather one-sided.
The little that we know about camel spider mating mostly comes from serendipitous observations in the field. There are approximately 1000 species of camel spider (also known as solifugids, solpugids, wind scorpions, sun spiders, and many other names). Camel spiders are arachnids but unlike some of their colloquial names imply they are neither spiders nor scorpions, belonging instead to their own order, Solifugae. These fascinating invertebrates live in deserts throughout the world (except Australia). Two families of solifugid can be found in North America: Eremobatidae and Ammotrechidae.
We are currently researching solifugid courtship and mating in Dr. Sissom’s arachnology lab at WTAMU. From previously published knowledge as well as staged mating trials in the laboratory, we know a little bit about eremobatid mating (like the pair pictured here). When a male first comes into contact with a female, she will fall into a trance-like state. During this time she is physically pliant, allowing him to maneuver her at will in order to accomplish his task. This involves the insertion of his upper jaws into her genital opening, followed by vigorous chewing and kneading. The specifics of sperm transfer are one of the aspects being investigated in our research.
On a good day, the male will disengage from the female and flee the area as she emerges from her mating-trance. On a bad day, she revives midway through his activities and tends to inflict lethal wounds to his head and neck, usually proceeding to dine on her former partner. The arachnid-mating world is fraught with peril. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the phrase “(s)he’s a camel spider in the bedroom” is in no danger of gaining popularity.
— Jen Rowsell