Arachnids are a group of eight-legged animals and second only to insects in abundance and diversity among the terrestrial animals. The class Arachnida comprises 12 living and 5 extinct orders (Savory, 1977), of which nine occur in South Africa. They are Acari (mites and ticks), Amblypygi (whip spiders), Araneae (spiders), Opiliones (harvestmen), Palpigradi (micro whip-scorpions), Pseudoscorpiones (false scorpions), Schizomida (schizomids), Scorpiones (scorpions) and the Solifugae (wind spiders).

South Africa has a rich arachnid fauna with about 4 950 known species, which represents 6% of the global arachnid diversity. Currently, 75% of the arachnids are endemic to South Africa.

However, our knowledge of the arachnids is still sketchy in terms of their taxonomy, ecology and distribution. Large areas are still not sampled. The taxonomy of the smaller orders is better known, but groups within the larger orders, e.g. spiders and mites, have received less attention.





Mites and Ticks






 Seven larger orders


AFRAD: Detailed information on all the SPIDER AND SCORPION FAMILIES, GENERA AND SPECIES of the Afrotropical Region, with keys to subfamilies, genera and species (if available) and information on their behaviour, distribution, research undertaken, list of genera and species now available as a FACT SHEET richly illustrated with drawings and photographs.


Co-ordinators :
A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman, e-mail: dippenaara
R. Jocqué, e-mail: jocque@africamuseum.be