Are You Safe From Giant Spiders in The Mojave Desert?

What’s just about everyone’s worst nightmares, whether out camping in the desert or even about the house?


And I’m not talking about those little eight-legged creepy crawlies that we happen upon everyday while going about our business. No, I’m talking about spiders the size of small dogs and with the ability to bring down prey much larger than some piddly insect – we’re talking large animals and even … shudder … human beings!

Spider Fact #1 – On any given day you’re only 6 feet away from some type of spider

Currently, the largest spider recognized by science is the Goliath Bird-Eater of South America (how’s that for a name?) and it is said to have a leg span of up to eleven inches. And while it is certainly a giant spider by anyone’s yardstick, there remains tales and stories of even larger spiders being seen out in the Mojave Desert.

Now everyone has seen pictures of hairy desert tarantulas (and if you’re like me, devoured all those great cheapo-yet-creepy 1950’s movies about giant tarantulas running rampant across the countryside scaring teenagers) but truth be told, they are fairly slow and docile animals that just want to be left alone as they go about their business.

Spider Fact #2 – Some restaurants in Asia serve fried tarantula as a side dish

But there HAVE been reports and rumors of much bigger spiders being encountered out in the Mojave Desert – if you’ve read my book or seen my YouTube Channel you know I’ve done stories on both giant spiders in the Mojave and the legend of giant camel spider attacks  that you might find interesting.

SO could there be something that big lurking out there ready to dine on you or your loved ones should you be so lucky as to be camping in the desert? Well, I personally have seen tarantulas as big as a small dinner plate (and even got some shaky phone video of the beastie as seen in my episode linked above) but so far no one has actually brought back proof of any giant spiders that could be scientifically validated.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still reporting seeing giant spiders in the desert.

Spider Fact #3 – Spiders do not normally feed on humans and typically their bites only occur as a defense mechanism

If you read through some of the comments on my YouTube channel on the giant spider episodes, you’ll see some people report seeing or encountering a larger-than-life spider on several occasions.

One man said while he was in the army and working as a transport driver, he happened to be delivering some supplies to an isolated outpost in the Mojave when he came across a giant spider crossing the road. He said it was big, black and hairy and when the heavy truck he was driving hit the animal (he was moving too fast to swerve and to be honest, didn’t really feel like doing so) the front wheels actually bounced and gave the entire truck a jolt as they passed over the monster’s body. He said he and his commanding officer, who was in the truck beside him, looked at each other and decided they were NOT going to stop. Pity really, we might just have had the chance to actually get a specimen of these extremely rare creatures.

Spider Fact # 4 – The giant black house spider’s original habitat consists mostly of caves or dry forests where it is found under rocks, but it is a very common spider in people’s homes

When I appeared on the Coast to Coast radio show, one of the listeners who called in reported then when he was a young man, he and his brother had stopped by the side of the road in the desert to relieve themselves. And when standing there in the darkness, they happened to see a set of red eyes reflecting back at them. Their father very wisely told them to leave it alone, finish their business and get back in the truck, but as boys will do, they decided to pick up some rocks and through them at the thing.

What happened next would make anyone piss themselves! Hurtling out of the darkness toward the two boys was what he described as a “giant spider” that tried to attack them before they could run screaming back to their father’s truck and clamber in. The only real description of the thing he could give was that it was a big hairy tarantula-like spider but of a size that was astounding – and that he carried the nightmare of that moment for the rest of his life.

Like anyone would!

Spider Fact #5 – It is estimated that the average house or domicile  has 30 spiders at any one time

So, the question is asked – are you at risk for being attacked by a giant spider in the Mojave Desert? Well, if you want the odds, I’d say you’re probably not going to have to worry too much about it. You will certainly see a large tarantula or two, maybe a camel spider (the normal size ones) and some very big scorpions, especially at night, but come out and enjoy the Mojave.

But if you do see a set of red eyes (or bluish-white or even green depending on the species) looking back at you reflecting from your campfire or flashlight – DON’T throw any rocks at it!


BONUS Spider Tips

– Don’t leave your tent unzipped during the day or night, that’s just asking to have a whole bunch of creepy crawly visitors come in (they’re looking for shade or warmth too) and pay you a visit.

– Never leave your boots or clothes laying on the ground. And if you do, make sure you shake them out well before putting them on.

– Make sure there are no spider burrows or holes under your tent or tarp. Blocking the entrance to one’s home means he or she just might decide to give you a nasty surprise while you lay sleeping – or getting up in the morning and stepping out.

– Don’t squash a spider in the desert – the great spirit of all living things will get mad and send a real big one to make your life painful as hell.

Okay, I made that one up, but you know the drill – live and let live!

JUST IN: This article claims that spiders all over the world are getting larger because of extended seasons due to climate change! Yow! Just what we needed, right?


Giant Camel Spider Attacks – Soldiers Bring Home Monster?

One of the Mojave Desert’s most enduring urban legends is one of the giant camel spider, a ferocious monster who allegedly hitched a ride home in the packs or more likely, the shipping containers the military sent home from battlefields in the Middle East.

But exactly what IS a camel spider?

Some quick camel spider facts:

Well, it’s a creature that is neither “fish nor fowl”, meaning, it sits in its own niche somewhere between a scorpion and a spider. The official term is “Solifugae” and it’s one ugly little customer.

Usually found between 1 and 5 inches in length, this fierce little hunter usually contents itself with eating insects, but some of the larger specimens are known to east small reptiles and even rodents! And with its fierce set of huge jaws and fangs, when the camel spider attacks it makes short work of any prey unlucky enough to fall into its grasp.

But do they attack humans? And did they attack our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan?

It’s a Mojave Desert mystery worth examining….

Here are some interesting facts about these nightmarish little desert monsters that might interest you…

Are camel spiders poisonous?

So far none that have a poisonous bite or venom have yet to be documented. Some have claimed that they have experienced reactions to the bite of a camel spider, or lost pets to the creatures, but so far this seems to be more urban legend than truth.

Do camel spiders scream?

I had never heard this one until I started researching the various urban legends and tales told about them, but this one too seems to be a bit of a myth – although hearing a spider “scream” might just be one of the more terrifying things one might encounter in the Mojave Desert!

How did it get it’s name?

Supposedly in the Middle East, the larger ones would run up to a camel, rip open its belly with their giant fangs, thereby disemboweling the poor animal – then feast on its body when it collapsed to the ground. Nice, huh?

What are some of the other names for the camel spider?

In the Mojave Desert they are most often called “sun spiders” or “wind scorpions”. Colorful, but factually incorrect as they are neither a spider OR a scorpion.

Do giant camel spiders exist?

While there are surely some very large (and in some cases, yet undocumented species out there) nothing along the lines of some of the most outlandish and frankly, horrifying, accounts that have been circulating on the Net. But who knows?

Would YOU want to suffer the attack of a giant camel spider?


Any tips to help avoid a camel spider attack?

Well, don’t be too worried about an actual attack (unless you’re an insect, small reptile or rodent – or the incredible shrinking man) but one thing I can tell you from personal experience is ALWAYS shake out your gear (sleeping bag, pack, shoes) before returning from the desert. The three times I have had a sun spider in my house was when it hitched a ride home in my backpack, was hiding in some dirty laundry in the garage, or decided to chase some beetles in off the back porch when I left the door open to the backyard for longer than I should have.

And yes, I’ve had them run up my leg when standing near the fire while out camping, although to be fair, once they realized they were on a living human and not some rock or cactus – they skittered down and ran off faster than I could react.

Thank GAWD!

Cheers all!

PS – you might want to check out my Mojave Mysteries article and episode on another creepy giant spider encounter in the Mojave too!