This website is intended for everyone interested in spider, scorpions and other arachnids. It is the website of the South African National Survey of Arachnida (SANSA) a project coordinated by the ARC.
total of 5 000 species are known globally and about 179 species of Opiliones
have been described from South Africa alone . They are divided into three
suborders: the Palpatores are diurnal and active on the soil surface or on
plants in forested areas, while the Cyphophthalmi and Laniatores are nocturnal
and generally associated with soil, leaf litter and caves..
The opilionids or harvestmen are characterized by their long to
very long legs that are frequently pseudo-segmented and flexible. Harvestmen are
generally small, their sizes range between 2-4.5 mm. They are shy animals and
are seldom seen. They climb shrubs and trees or are found under logs and stones.
They mainly feed on living insects, snails (sometimes dead) or even plant sap.
All the South African species are slow moving animals.
Currently 88 % of the opilionids recorded from South Africa are
endemic. The highest diversity of Opiliones occurs in the forested high humidity
areas of South Africa, south of the Cape Fold Mountains and east of the
escarpment. The more central arid regions in South Africa is either poorly
sampled or due to the drier conditions fewer species occur there e.g. Free State
and Central and South Gauteng. The Western Cape and especially the Cape
Peninsula has the greatest number of endemic genera. Frequently the diversity in
small areas can be very high e.g. Table Mountains and its slopes are home to
about 20 opilionid species. A few species are found only in caves.
No opilionids are protected. Little information is available on
their ecology and behaviour. They are not endangered by collectors but habitat
destruction such as deforestation and warmer climate may affect them.
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Co-ordinators :A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org