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
Co-ordinators :A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgR. Jocqué, e-mail: email@example.com