Big surprise, the media gets an arthropod story wrong. The level of wrongness is impressive, though.

The headline is “Stowaway Afghan Spider kills Family Dog.”

First, the story is  about a camel spider, which isn’t actually a spider at all. It’s a solifugid, which is a relative of true spiders (Arachnida: Solifugae). They are formidable looking, and they can be aggressive.

The second error is identifying it as a “poisonous spider.”  This group of animals doesn’t have venom–just huge pointy jaws. I’ve seem them eat a cricket, and it looks like they are running it through a a can opener.

Third, there is this statement:  “It seems too much of a coincidence that she died at the same time that we saw the spider.” Um, yes, it IS a coincidence.  Even if it was a teacup poodle, there is no way that that it was killed by a solifugid.  Cut, sure. Killed, no way.  Bummer about your dog, but her death has nothing to do with this.

Lastly, the story ends with this:  “The desert dwelling camel spider, actually an insect rather than an arachnid….

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.  it is an Arachnid. It is Not an insect.

Does CNN not know how to work Teh Google?

EDITED TO ADD: apparently the Telegraph also cannot use the internet.  Although they had fewer errors than CNN.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. I Can. Not. wait to go to the bar tonight and chortle and guffaw at how stupid CNN is and then quote your information!
    I love your blog.

  2. It sounds like the little bugger hasn’t been captured yet and was only seen by the family. Is it possible that the family misidentified it as a camel spider simply because their son just returned from Afghanistan? Is there a poisonous spider, insect, or even scorpion that looks similar to a camel spider that is native to England?

  3. not really, no. Camel spiders are desert animals. I can’t think of anything in England that would look remotely like it.

    It may be a real camel spider; it just didn’t do all the stuff they claim.

    Some of the stories have more details on the dog’s death; apparently there was a high temperature and swollen stomach. It could be a lot of things, and the vet didn’t specify a cause of death.

  4. I hope you reported this to the editorial department of CNN. I did when I saw the story on their website. I am glad your blog is around. I feel vindicated.

  5. One of the nice things about the CNN site is that it has a feed that displays blogs linking to the page below the story.

    Right now there are two posts (besides mine) displayed that indicate CNN’s mistakes :)

  6. nice! I will have to check it out again!

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