Zandvlei Trust

Insects - Sunspiders

Red Romans (Solifugae)

photograph by Greg Morgan

A smallish one about 40mm long.

These are interesting creatures. They are not a spider or a scorpion, but are described in its own class of species.
Sometimes called "Sun Spiders" as they will follow you and stop in your shadow when you stand still. If you run, they run to stay in your shade. This often terrifies people as they move extremely quickly. In Afrikaans they are called "Baardskerders" as they also cut hair of any sort, animal or human to line their nests.
They are not poisonous and do not have venom sacs. They are armed with sizable jaw pinchers for cutting hair. Each jaw can move independently of the other. It is stated "they do it so well you will not feel your hair being cut". They often have been noted leaving bald patches on dogs, sheep and probably many other animals.
Their prey is harvester termites. Maybe where the name originates as they feed on "red roman termites or ants"?

Solifugae. This was also a large specimen about 100mm long.

Solifuge (Zeria Schoelandi) sometimes called Red Romans, Sun Spiders, Baardskerders and "get me out of here".
This above specimen is about 120mm long and co - operated, by quickly climbing into a small basket, dark inside and allowing it to be relocatted well away from the building.

Also a small specimen about 35mm long.


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