What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

unknown spider
February 10, 2010
found this spider in our bathroom twice. We have never seen this type of spider before and would love to know what type it is.
South Africa

Scorpion Spider from South Africa

Hi Annest,
We will attempt to identify your spider.  How large is it?

The spider was about 1-2 cm long. We have been told that it is from the gnaphosid family, but we would like a specific name….

The members of the family Gnapnosidae are commonly called Ground Spiders.  BugGuide has a nice representation of North American species.  Spiders are often very difficult to identify to the species level even for experts, which we are not.  An expert would rarely make a conclusive identification from a photograph without actually examining the specimen.  Your photo resembles a photo of Gnaposa bicolor from Czech Republic, but that spider has a range that is listed as Europe to Ukraine, Georgia.  Wikipedia has a list of species and locations as of July 5, 2009, and you may try to web search individual names that are listed in South Africa to see if there are images posted online that match your specimen if your level of investment includes having an exact species name.  If your request to have an exact species name is a question of whether the spider is harmless versus dangerous, the Colorado State University Spiders in the Home website indicates:  “Ground spiders, as their common name implies, are most often found under rocks or logs where they build silken retreats and emerge only to hunt. Some species wander indoors when the weather turns cold. Ground spiders are harmless to humans.

Update: January 26, 2011
T.M. just sent us a comment identifying this unusual spider as a Scorpion Spider in the genus
Platyoides and we found a photo on Snakes.co.za that supports the identification.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Africa

77 Responses to Scorpion Spider from South Africa

  1. t.m. says:

    That’s probably a ‘scorpion spider’, not a gnaphosid but closely related to them:

    I found it in the book “Filmer’s Spiders”

  2. Hi, I found a spider exactly like the one in the picture in our bath in Randburg, South Afica last night. I’ve never seen a spider like this one before. At first glance I thought it was a small scorpion. The body is quite flat and not rounded as most spiders and the legs were bended and flat against the surface of the bath. Are these spiders poisonous?

    • bugman says:

      Almost all spiders have venom, however, most are not considered dangerous to humans. To the best of our knowledge, Scorpion Spiders are not considered dangerous.

    • Elrich says:

      I found it on my hand while at school almost crapped my pants threw it of and my friend steppedon it

  3. Damien says:

    Hi all, my son found an identical spider in our pool, also first time I’ve seen one, I stay in radiokop on the West rand.

  4. Peter says:

    just found ome in Knysna, South AFRICA. SADLY 4 weeks ago was bitten by a violin spider and a nasty cytotoxic wound developed with blisters..so not taking any chances..regards..Peter

  5. Brendan Lee Smit says:

    I live in Springs (East Rand), Gauteng, and I have just found a spider crawling out a t-shirt while ironing my laundry. The spider fits the exact same spider illustrated in this post, known to be an Scorpion Spider from South Africa.
    [2014-02-16 | 21H00]

  6. Philip says:

    Found exactly this spider a month ago and again last night in my house in Little Falls, Roodepoort, SA. Family kept it in a jar and wanted me to identify it. Viola! Scorpion Spider. Thanks!

  7. Juliet says:

    My daughter saw two scorpion spiders in two weeks. They were in her lounge.they were so huge and she is so terrified of spiders,

  8. Juliet says:

    I saw two scorpion spiders in two weeks in my lounge. I’m so terrified of them. I still have nightmareof them.

  9. yolande says:

    how do i upload a photo of a spider i found?

  10. Johan Meyer says:


    I just found one of these, black, flat and larger than a R5 coin, sleeping with me underneath my bed covers!!!! I nearly jumped out my skin and thought it was a dead cockroach, next thing i knew it started running on the bed! Nearly had a heart attack.

    Luckily broom and doom took care of it. Now, question is, why the hell did it come into my bed?

    I have arachnaphobia, not the best experience 🙁 🙁

  11. monique says:

    today is the 29th of May 2014. Our 4 year old daughter was bitten by what appears to be a scorpion spider on her hand. do you know of any other reported bites and the effects thereof?

    • bugman says:

      We know nothing about the bite of a Scorpion Spider.

    • M Robertdon says:

      I have been bitten by a spider that resemble a scorpion spider, in KZN The bite burned like a wasp bite and the area got inflamed. I applied bicarbonate of soda and an ice pack which relieved the burning and itching. 5 days later on a course of anti biotic it is still red and clearly visible

  12. monique says:

    sorry, I forgot to include that we live in PE

  13. michelle says:

    I found an identical spider to the one in this photo – beneath my pillow yestruday morning whilst making my bed, Boksburg

  14. jenny v says:

    We found one of these on our lounge curtain last night. I am not a fan of spiders, so this freaked me out completely. Really hope they are not dangerous. We stay in Pretoria East

  15. binx says:

    We have found this type of spider several times in our house and yard. In brenthurst brakpan. The biggest one yet was about 10cm long including legs.. pretty freaked out by this spider as its the most common one ive seen at our place and cant seem to identify if its poisonous. .

  16. morgan says:

    My biggest concern is where or not they are harmful as I am pregnant and have just found a scorpion spider in my bath. Not the first time it’s been in the house. Very freaked out and worried. Can’t seem to find anything that truly answers my question. Just need to know how dangerous these spiders are…

    From Germiston, JHB

    • bugman says:

      We are sorry, but as you probably realize from information available on the internet, we cannot locate anything that clearly states that they are either dangerous or harmless. Again, generally when a creature is dangerous, there is some indication, which has resulted in our opinion that Scorpion Spiders do not pose a danger to humans. That is our opinion. We would suggest that you check with your local Natural History Museum.

  17. Konrad Schultz says:

    Just found one. No bigger than 2cm. Does that mean there are more?…or a mother? Hahahaha I’ll play with snakes but don’t like spiders at all cause it’s so difficult to identify them. Sorry, had to kill it… Constantia Kloof West Rand Gauteng

    • bugman says:

      Since Spiders do not appear through Spontaneous Generation, we believe there must be at least one spider of the same species nearby. Here is a quote on Spontaneous Generation from our archives: “A little bit of ancient history provided by Encyclopaedia Britannica: Spontaneous Generation or Abiogenesis was a theory that stated that fully formed living organisms sometimes arise from non-living matter. Aristotle taught the theory as observed fact. The Italian Redi, in 1668, proved that no maggots were “bred” in meat on which flies were prevented by wire screens from laying their eggs. The fact is, flies seem to have a way of magically appearing. Flies were also, in the days of the persecutions, associated with witches. There is no magic, they are breeding on something. Adult flies will live for several weeks, but the maturation cycle varies with the temperature. It can be as short as a week in warm temperatures. “

  18. Miguel Fadario says:

    So since June I’ve had 5 necrotic lesions /bite sites appear. First three appeared together. First a really painful one on my stomach, with a smaller groin and inner thigh appearing literally the next day. At first I thought I had an infestation so I fumigated twice… Now I’m quite sure I have something somewhere. As I got a random bite on my arm, less painful but still definitely from cytotoxic venom like the sac, brown widow, or violin.. Lastly I got bitten in my arm pit while sleeping / hiking 2 weeks ago. After the first 3 I found a brown widow in my yard. After the last one 2 days later I found a scorpion spider climbing out of my denim leg whilst putting my pants on at the girlfriends house. And tonight I found one in my passage on the floor. I suspect that the first stomach bite was the widow, however the other two I’m starting to suspect were in my clothing at home.

    The bite starts out as a typical spider bite pimple with a red area around.. As the pimple is removed the bite starts to become inflamed building pressure under the wound. Your body encapsulates the venom in a sort of glue-like sac which forms and grows under the skin. Best to do I’ve found is to get some sort of antibiotic which fits the infection, when it breaks open and starts oozing slowly, use a sterilized pin to break open the dead skin on top, stretch the skin away from the wound and squeeze it like a pimple.. But of a bloody mess at first but you’ll quickly spot where the sac is. . Once the tissue on top a day or two layer is quite dead. Repeat the process till this chunky type of sac pops out (Alternately get a doctor to Lance it.. It’s my 5th one now so I’m quite used to the process) once the bag is out and the dark blood follows it, use 8trek / Bactroban cleaning and dressing the wound twice a day. It should start healing as soon as the sac is out. If not there may be some left behind. Don’t be alarmed by the bruised or even hardened tissue around the bite site, it seems to be the normal result. Goodluck!! *Miguel from lonehill, Johannesburg, South africa

  19. Alistair says:

    Just found 1 of these in my kitchen. Freaked me the hell out. Still need to find out if it’s poisonous or not? Honeydew, Westrand

  20. kurt lassner says:

    I was cleaning my back room and this thing literally chased me as I ran haha at first I thought it was a big garden spider then it stopped so I caught it I now have it in a jar and I’m going to try keep it alive and see how big it could grow if it stays alive as I have a curly haired tarantula as well let’s see how this process gets on

  21. Mapula says:

    we killed four in two months that looked exactly like the scorpion spiders as described, live in Randburg Sundowner. not sure if they are poisonous but we are scared

  22. Kathleen says:

    Just found one on a cloth my three year old son was carrying around…. 🙁 Yuck!!! Luckily for the spider, my husband was home, who kindly caught it and threw it over the wall. SO not what I would’ve done! lol… Thought it was a small scorpion, so was very easy to find this site. We are on the East Rand.

  23. Sarel Steyn says:

    Hi daar ek het ook van die spiders #3 van hul in my huis in een week gekry en dit weer in die veld gaan los ek bly in Heidelberg GP

  24. Cobus Robbertse says:

    Just found one in my bedroom climbing up the curtains. I freaked out just a little since I’m no fan of spiders, let alone ugly ones like this.
    After het took a mouth full of Doom and a swim down the toilet, I managed to identify him from this site.
    I stay in Alberton

  25. jacky says:

    The scorpion spiders have the ability to fold their legs over their bodies. Is this to enable them to fit into rocks and crevices. Or is it purely for defence to resemble scorpions?

  26. Anne Marie says:

    Found one late last year in our home, Ventersdorp. Looks like is is getting more known every day.

  27. Vassili says:

    I found one tonight in my room down stairs! First I thought it was a roach till I came closer it started to become aggressive so I tried catching it but ended up escaping under the hole in the wall….

  28. Bianka says:

    Hi i found 2 of these scorpion spiders, 1 in the bathroom and one in my bedroom, i am totally freaked out by its appearance and not knowing if this spider is poison or not. If there are any information please let me know!

  29. Delong says:

    I found one in our bedroom tonight, wife tried to step on it over a book, after several hard steps, it still runs free. Then we tried doom also after 4 or 5 spray, no use. Finally we have to do the toilet route, shame to the little creature, but can’t keep it as we got a little baby.

  30. Susan says:

    I found one in my bedroom yesterday afternoon.
    is it , or is it not poisonous.
    needless to say I didn’t sleep in room.

    • bugman says:

      We have never been able to determine the answer to this question based on online information. Checking with your local natural history museum might provide some answers.

  31. Ivan van Zijl says:

    I live on the East Rand and found a Scorpion Spider yesterday.
    Interesting looking creature. I am really fascinated by Spiders and was cautious about this one as a rule of thumb if the fangs are big then its normally a painful bite, not necessarily fatal.

  32. binx says:

    We have quite a few of them, however I try and leave them and dont kill as they eat all the insects. They are not poisonous however im sure the bite will be sore.. they tend to hide more than actually appear in the open… I suggest if one is found in your house catch and release outside as its by accident that it came inside. We usually find them by the rocks in our garden or on the bricks.

  33. Elize says:

    12 Nov 2015 – Found one crawling out underneath my bed! Have NEVER seen it around Norkem Park!

  34. Gideon Stapelberg says:

    Found a scorpion spider this morning at Vryheid Kwazulu-Natal.

  35. Nadja says:

    We found one today. Adore finding new creatures we have not seen. We get alot of spiders and insects and love to find out about them. And too see if they poisonous or not incase our kiddies or animals get bitten. But we do not kill little creature of any kind big or small. We would love a site where we could get more pics and info. People should not be killing anything. Everything living creature has a reason for being here.

  36. Anita Sporre says:

    We live in Durban and over the past few years get two or three of these every summer. I found one in the bathroom this morning, rehomed it in the garden.

  37. Nella says:


    We live in Weltevredenpark, Roodepoort.
    I’ve seen these Scorpion Spiders all over lately.
    I’ve got two kids, 5 years and 1 year, so I’m a bit worried.
    Are they poisonous?

    Thank you.

  38. Jacqui says:

    I want to know if they are dangerous?

  39. Dick says:

    Just found a different looking spider and thanks to this site was able to ID it as a scorpion spider.
    Are they are becoming more common?
    I live in Alberton – JHB.

  40. karen says:

    Found one in the the bath two days ago.. Its quite pretty. I live in Randhart Alberton. Never seen one before though.

  41. Hantie Brits says:

    I often find this scorpion spider in my pool area. I have never seen any web or nest. They like to hide under the swimming equipment. I believe that they like moist places.

  42. Avinash says:

    F with Mother Nature and we bound to have our habitats taken over by the ones we left homeless…look industrialization and forefathers and global warming etc etc and someone has to feel the brunt….we pay Prime for our dwellings perhaps at their expense…time to give back…law of the Universe ? easy as that

  43. Stratham Benoni says:

    Hi all just a headsup to check all airvents in your home they breed in this type of places, I just had two Scorpion Spiders crawl out of these airvents in last couple of days. Both where quite large and looked full grown to me.

  44. Erika Pretorius says:

    Killed one just now in Helderkruin, Roodepoort. First time ever I saw this type. Found it against the wall in the passage. Dead it is about 1 squared cm.

  45. Desiree Greeff says:

    Im from Bethlehem freestate. On thursday night one bit me on my shoulder in my bed. I am off balance, sleepy and very drowzy. I have a headache that feels as if my head is exploding. My mouth is dry, my eyes is dry and im nauseas but im not vomiting. I cant eat at all. My muscles is paining, actually my whole body is paining. Im running fevers and keep on sweating. The bite is now a black circle. It was a blister filled with yellow fluid. Now its a black mark with a hole. I caught the spider while it was biting me. It was a sting and then it started burning like hot coal. I went to the drs got antibiotics and pain and fever medication. They say that the symptoms can last up to 48hrs. I havent felt so weak and tired and a headache like this in my whole life. I feel terrible and very sick.

  46. Jaque says:

    I have plenty in my yard 🙂 Alberton area if anyone wants a sample. I have been bitten by one late at night in my bed. Found him cosying up to me. My symptoms presented with my head/Skin that felt swollen and I was super hot, the weirdest part was that all my joints felt a burning sensation but only my joints. The bite was in the back of my neck. And typical man after washing off my face with cold water I got back into bed, did not want to worry anyone, luckily felt fine the next day, would not want this to happen to a child I’m sure symptoms would be worse as I am a 120KG…..

  47. I was looking for a black pants of mine in the cupboard, when I pulled it out I saw a white bubble on it which stained the pants. The eggs were dry and collective in the shape of a sphere the size of a peppercorn. My son crushed them and they turned to dust. He then handed the pants back to me. Out of curiosity I decided to check the spot on the pants where the eggs were, and that’s when I saw the mother (most likely), she definitely looked like the spider in the top image of this article. Thereafter my son removed the spider from the house. I’d like to know:

    Could there be more laying around?
    Is it common for them to lay eggs on clothing?

  48. Louis venter says:

    Hi these spiders are completely harmless. For more information on scorpion spiders please read “Southern African spiders” by Martin R. filmed. Hope it helps

    • bugman says:

      Do you have a link to an online article?

      • Louis Venter says:

        No unfortunately there is not much on these spiders only the details I found in the book. I have quite a few scorpion spiders in Northcliff and remove them hand to bucket. I’ve never been bitten.

        • bugman says:

          We found that out because so many people have written questioning the effects of the bite. Your information is a tremendous assistance for our site.

  49. Dolf says:

    Got one at san lameer kzn. He could live bcoz he was a good boy and stayed outside.

  50. Charmaine says:

    I live in Verwoerdpark, Alberton, South Africa. I have done renovations to my house in the last 8 weeks and I have had 3 of these in 2 weeks. I am pretty nervous as I have a 6 year old and 20 month old grandson living in the house. Does anyone know how dangerous it is if a small child is bitten?

  51. natalie says:

    2 spiders of the scorpion spiders species found in kzn, Margate-Ramsgate near the coast side. Was in my bedroom found it lurking on my dressing table and then in my guest bathroom. Horrid things…

  52. Louis Venter says:

    Louis venter says:
    November 21, 2016 at 10:41 am
    Hi these spiders are completely harmless. For more information on scorpion spiders please read “Southern African spiders” by Martin R. filmed. Hope it helps. The best thing to do if you suspect it’s a spider bite iso to clean the bite with detol and apply some Bactroban cream available from any chemist. Spiders eat bugs and some bugs carry bacteria that could cause an infection. Please don’t just kill our small gritters….

  53. Leandi says:

    I have just found an identical spider in our living room while watching television. I couldn’t get it over my heart to kill it,not even with an ice block. Right now a plastic bowl is placed over it.

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