Harvestmen from South Africa

Subject: Spider or Scorpion ID
Location: Lower South Coast of South Africa
February 12, 2013 1:36 am
We have a ton of these little critters down by our compost heap, their body’s are about 8mm long, legs are very long and i have no clue whats coming out of its head, thats what is making think it might be a scorpion.
Signature: Mike


Hi Mike,
These are neither spiders nor scorpions, though they are classified together in the class Arachnids.  They are Harvestmen in the order Opiliones and they lack venom and feed on dead and dying creatures.  See BugGuide for an explanation of North American Opiliones which includes this statement:  “In some cases, in dry climates, they gather in large numbers during the day, probably to avoid dessication, and wander about in search of food after the sun goes down.”
  Structurally, your species seems similar to this New Zealand species of Harvestman we recently posted.  The structures you mention appear to be the chelicerae or jaws. 

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the response, so it turns out these big guys are happy in South Africa as well. 🙂 Awesome, makes a nice change from the Widow and Baboon spiders we have found in the garden before.

Leave a Comment