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Meet the Arachnids

The class Arachnida is an ancient group dating back approximately 400 million years. The first arachnids were similar to scorpions and they lived in the sea. The class Arachnida has been divided into 11 Orders. We have included information on a few species in some of the orders and have provided links to those species.

Arachnid Orders

  • Amblypygi (tailless whipscorpions)
  • Pseudoscorpiones (pseudoscorpions, bookscorpions, or false scorpions)
  • Opiliones (harvestmen or daddy-longlegs)
  • Solifugae (wind scorpions, camel spiders, sun spiders, solpugids)
  • Thelyphonida (whiptailed scorpions, vinegaroons, uropygids)
  • Palpigradi (micro whipscorpions)
  • Ricinulei (ricinuleids)
  • Schizomida (schizomids)
  • Acari (mites and ticks)

Here are some of our favorite arachnids:

Order Scorpiones

  • Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator)

This is one of the Worlds largest scorpions. Though its claws and stinger look menacing, an Emperor scorpion will typically not sting unless it is a pregnant female. Their sting is not fatal to humans and is about as painful as a sting from a hornet. This species molts 7 times before it becomes fully mature, and will grow to be 6-8 inches long!

  • Range: Tropical West Africa
  • Habitat: Lowland rainforest
  • Adult Lifespan: 5-8 years
  • Food: Insects, amphibians, mice, other arachnids
  • Northern Scorpion (Paruroctonus boreus)

The Northern scorpion is one of the smaller species of scorpions reaching only 1.5 inches. This is a shy creature seldom observed in the wild. To date, not much is known about the Northern scorpion.

  • Range: Western U. S.
  • Habitat: Dry grasslands
  • Food: Small insects and arachnids
  • Desert Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis)

The Desert hairy scorpion is the largest of 9 species of Hadrurus inhabiting the United States reaching 5.5 inches in length. The females’ pregnancy lasts 6-8 months and she gives birth to live young which she carries on her back for 10-15 days.

  • Range: Southwest U. S. into Mexico
  • Habitat: Desert areas
  • Adult Lifespan: Average is 20 years
  • Food: Small insects, lizards, snakes
  • Egyptian Yellow Scorpion (Androctonus amoreuxi)

The Egyptian yellow scorpion, also known as the Yellow fat-tail scorpion, is one of the world’s most deadly scorpions. Its venom can deliver dangerous, possibly life-threatening injuries to humans.

  • Range: Middle East and Africa
  • Habitat: Arid and semi-arid regions
  • Adult Lifespan: 15+ years
  • Food: Large insects and other invertebrates


Order Thelyphonida

  • Giant Vinegaroon (Mastigoproctus giganteus)

Vinegaroons are also called “whip scorpions” because they have a long whip-like tail at the end of their abdomen instead of a stinger. They defend themselves by using their formidable pincers and by spraying a mixture of acetic acid from glands at the base of their tail. Their spray can reach up to 20 inches! This acid damages the exoskeletons of insects and other arthropods.

  • Range: Desert southwest
  • Habitat: Under rocks and rotting wood
  • Adult Lifespan: 4+ years
  • Food: Insects and other arthropods


Order Araneae

  • Indian Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria regalis)

Indian ornamental tarantulas are tree dwelling spiders from the forests of southeastern India and Sri Lanka. They are very fast and agile hunters that do not build webs. They shelter beneath loose tree bark or in hollow branches in living or dead trees. The Indian ornamental grows to about 178 mm (7in) in size. It has a unique coloration pattern of gray, white, and black on their dorsal sides, with brilliant yellow and black "warning" bands on the undersides of their front legs.

  • Range: India, Sri Lanka
  • Habitat: Monsoon forests; lives in hollow, rotted trees
  • Adult Lifespan: Males 3-4 years, Females 10-15 years
  • Food: Eats insects and small reptiles or amphibians
  • Ghost Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria pederseni)

A newly discovered species, P. pederseni was found by a Danish man named Nikolai Pedersen in 2001. Habitat loss and collecting for the pet industry threatens the survival of the P. pederseni species. Sri Lanka prohibits the commercial collecting and exportation of all Poecilotheria species. The group of P. pederseni on display at the Bug Safari was born in captivity.

  • Range: Sri Lanka
  • Habitat: Tropical forests
  • Adult Lifespan: Estimated at 10 years
  • Food: Eats insects and amphibians
  • Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)

Brachypelma smithi are nocturnal and solitary tarantulas. They are ground dwelling, burrowing spiders that can create an underground chamber up to 5 feet long and as deep as 2 feet under the surface. Although usually peaceful, when threatened, a Mexican red knee will rear up to display its fangs and the bristles on its abdomen. By rubbing its back legs, hair can be flipped as a defense. These hairs are referred to as "urticating” hairs and they are barbed so that when in contact with soft tissue they dig in and cause irritation.

  • Range: Mexico
  • Habitat: Semi-desert
  • Adult Lifespan: Females may live 25-30 years; males live up to 10 years
  • Food: Insects, small frogs, lizards, and mice

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