A windscorpion, or sunspider, resting on
Top view of a windscorpion, note the 4 prominent chelicerae, or jaws.
The windscorpion holds its pedipalps up
in a defensive posture. There are no pincers.
The 4 jaws work independently, one pair
holds the prey, while the second chews.
|Description and Biology:
Solpugids range in size from 5/8 to 1-3/4 inches (15 to 45 mm). Their
color is mostly brownish or yellowish and they are often covered with
short hairs. The body is divided into three distinct body regions - a
segmented head region with two distinct eyes, a three segmented thorax
and a 10 segmented abdomen.
The most striking characters are the enormous, two-jointed jaws with
the pincers hinged up and down. There is no poison associated with the
The pedipalps, or first pair of arms, are slender and do not have
pincers, this is different than scorpions. These arms are sticky at the
tip and are used to hold prey and scoop water to the mouth. The first
true pair of legs are longer than the others and are used as feelers.
The last three pair of legs are used for walking.
The abdomen, distinguished by the waistline constriction, is rounded.
The abdomen has no tail or stinger of any kind, further distinguishing
it from scorpions.
The females lay about 50 eggs in a burrow dug into the soil. She then
guards the burrow until the young hatch. Upon hatching, the young are
active at night. Adults are most active at night but can be found moving
about during the day.
Windscorpions are predators. Their prey
consists of insects and some small vertebrates, such as lizards. The
solpugids are aggressive hunters seizing their prey with their arms.
They have no poison to help them capture food.
The sun spiders are occasionally found inside homes. They enter homes
while searching for insect prey. Homes with many entries, such as poor
fitting door seals, may be invaded more frequently. When found, they are
usually alone. All sun spiders are independent hunters.
Chemical controls specifically for sun spiders are
not recommended. Windscorpions are regarded as beneficial
because they feed on insects. Their harmless nature to man further
discourages any control. The best management is to limit the number of
possible entry points into the living area. Use caulking and weather
stripping to block these areas. These same procedures will limit entry
of all home invaders including crickets, spiders, millipedes, sowbugs
Upon seeing these arachnids, a person's first impression is often,
"Anything this ugly MUST be poisonous." This is the
unfortunate reputation that follows the sun spider .
The truth is quite different. The sun spider's appearance is quite
fierce, yet they are perfectly harmless to man. Many superstitions are
told about these creatures. In Mexico and the Southwest it is one of two
different creatures referred to as nina de la tierra or child-of-the
Solpugids live where arid and semi-arid conditions
throughout western United States and into southern Canada.