Do not fear, whip spiders are here!

By Warren Dick

Whip spiders are things that seem to fill many people with absolute fear and dread, even becoming the subject of nightmares.
But other than their size and scary looks, there is absolutely nothing to fear about them. In fact one should count it a blessing to have these in the garden or even in your home.

READ: Flower-crab spider is a camouflage king

Sometimes called whip scorpions, these spiders have been found to be more closely related to spiders, however they are not true spiders as they do not produce silk. Adults have a body diameter of around 5cm, however the front pair of legs often reach around 25cm in length. Their front pair of legs are very thin, almost hair-like. These legs have special sensors, enabling them to perceive their surroundings, almost like antennae in other insects. At rest, these long legs fold up over their body.

They have a powerful set of pincers in the front, but these are only used for eating and drinking. They do not use them for anything other than catching prey, which makes the whip spider absolutely harmless. They will feed on any other smaller insect they can overpower, even cockroaches, which makes these whip spiders very useful to keep around.

The whip spider’s favorite habitat is under rocks, logs and compost heaps.

When threatened they run and hide or simply play dead. For some reason they sometimes enter homes, usually causing quite a stir among panic-stricken residents, but there is really no need to stress and definitely never a need to kill these beautiful, weird-looking creatures. If you really don’t want it in your home, softly brush them into a dustpan, jar or box and take them back into the garden.

When threatened they run and hide, or simply play dead.

 

Whip spiders also have a motherly side. During the rainy season, an average of 36 eggs are produced, which the female carries in a dark and slightly transparent sac attached to the ventral surface of her abdomen. The developing eggs and embryos are fed by the mother through a connection with her body. Like scorpions, the young are carried on the mother’s back for a while before they disperse.
I hope that this article helps to remove your fear of the whip spider and enables you to enjoy them in their natural environment, because they really do not mean you any harm.
WATCH: The whip spider in action

  AUTHOR
Lauren Beukes
Journalist

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