Also known as wind scorpions or the Arizona sun spider, these eight-legged creatures aren’t technically spiders at all. They are not scorpions either, as their respective nicknames would lead you to believe. They are sollifugae and are a common domestic insect that shares some genetic and physical characteristics as spiders and scorpions. A sun spider can range in size from one to three inches and share a similar physical appearance to a scorpion but with a thick fur that covers their body like a spider. A sun spider make for great pest control and are generally harmless to humans.
A sun spider is not venomous, but they do have a very strong jaw and can cause a nasty bite if provoked. These jaws help them feed on an assortment of insects and plants. Those who live in deserts or dry, hot terrains are most likely to come into contact with this creature. They may come into the home seeking darkness, as the sun spider heavily dislikes sunlight. Their sun spider name is a poor translation from the Latin sollifugae which means “to detest light”.
Sun Spider Identification
Ranging between one and three inches, these eight-legged creatures are closely identifiable to the physical appearance of a scorpion. They have a thick fur that covers the body and are a light tan or darker brown color. They are considered moderate in size, which means they are neither the smallest nor the largest in their order. They feed on other smaller insects and are scavengers by nature but are also good hunters when required.
A sun spider, despite its name, is generally found in deserts or in places where there is a harsh terrain. These creatures will seek out nests or burrows and places of darkness, and in rare instances, they have even been found in grasslands and wetlands. They are best defined by their striped abdomen, which is likened to a large-scale representation of an ant.
Sun Spider Habitat
A sun spider can found in almost every desert in the word. Much like scorpions, they seek out hot, dry climates and may be found commonly in Arizona, California, Texas and other rugged terrains in the south-east of America. It is uncommon, but not rare, to find them living in arable or wetter landscapes; these critters always seek out shade due to their natural aversion to sunlight. For this reason, a sun spider is nocturnal and are most active at night.
Females may burrow in order to find a safe place to lay and protect her eggs. Burrows may be built into loose soil or sand or built under rocks, trees or any other place which offers a dark and protective roofing. A sun spider may also come into your home and are most likely to be found in quiet, dark areas such as basements, attics and garages or greenhouses. They will also seek out domestic dwellings that have an established pest population; this serves as the spiders’ food source.
Life Cycle of Sun Spider
Mating usually only takes places once or a handful of times per year. A sun spider typically mates after a period heavy rain. This can vary upon the geographical location.
Males will initiate a mating ritual, whereby they stroke and seduce the female sun spider. This puts the female into a relaxed trance which lasts for a few hours after mating. This is beneficial for the males, as females are usually cannibalistic and may try to devour the male after mating, as is common to other species of arachnids, such as the black widow spider.
Females burrow underground to create cavities where they lay between fifty to two hundred eggs. These eggs will go through several insar phases in which they feed and shed their skin to accommodate growth before becoming sexually mature. The eggs hatch after four weeks and will shed their skins up to fifteen times before they are mature. After this time, they will usually live about 12 months and females may mate a few times during this time.
Sun Spider and Humans
If you have a sun spider population in your home, it may indicate you have a further pest problem somewhere else. Removal is not always required, as a sun spider can help reduce the population counts of other less desirable pests such as cockroaches and even smaller scorpions.
They are not considered dangerous and are not venomous, however, they have a particularly strong jaw and may bite if provoked or feeling threatened. For this reason, many people consider removing them from their home. They have sharp teeth that can pierce through human flesh and medical attention should be sought to ensure no secondary infection arises.
Sun Spider Control
If you only find one or two every now and again, it is simply a case of removing the sun spider from your home or killing them on sight. Either way, you may also want to consider preventative measures.
Maintenance: Caulking small holes can prevent sun spiders and other pests from coming inside. Screening can help a myriad of pests, including sun spiders, from coming into your home. Ensure windows, doors and other entrances are securely sealed. Gardens should be well maintained, with rocks or debris cleaned away.
Cleanliness: A deep cleaning can help eliminate other problematic zones which may be attracting pests or sun spiders. Watch out for spider webs and other indications of activity such as burrowing or shedding skin; this will alert you to their nests. It should also be repeated after the use of chemicals or treatments.
Pesticides: Can help deter and may even kill off a sun spider but are not guaranteed to solve the problem. You can purchase solutions from most hardware stores that may also be compatible with outside use. Always read the instructions and follow accordingly for correct usage.
A sun spider is often treated as a scorpion and are generally considered a manageable pest in the home. Professional help is not usually required but may be desired where large numbers are present or where small children and pets may be at risk of being bitten.
Sun Spider Entomology
A sun spider belongs to the animalia kingdom and is also a member of the arthropoda phylum; which is comprised of many other insects. They are predominantly related to the arachnid class which are attributed to spiders. They are not actually a spider, but do have eight legs.
A sun spider belongs to the sollifugae order, which is a small collection of arachnids that share very similar physical and genetic features to spiders but are their own defined species. There are 1065 known species in the sun spider order and a further 12 families which are comprised of common yet defining characteristics.