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Wind Scorpions aka Solufigids
by Martin Overton
Family Eremobatidae -
Order Solpugida - Sun or Wind
Hardly anything is known about
the six species that are known from the south
Okanagan (British Columbia, Canada) - in fact,
three of these species have been discovered only
recently and have not yet received official,
scientific names. Knowledge of invertebrate
ranges and status is poor, and new, intensive
surveys are needed to further clarify the status
of many of these animals.
Despite their common name, Sun Scorpions are not
scorpions and shun the sunlight, preferring to
hunt at night. They are also called wind
scorpions because they appear to run as fast as
the wind. They are sometimes called sunspiders
after their sunny desert habitat. There are
almost 120 species in North America out of 800 to
900 worldwide. Most North American windscorpions
belong the Eremobatid Wind Scorpion Family.
These creatures are also
found throughout Sothern Africa, where they are
commonly called Camel Spiders.
The Eremobatid family consists of medium-sized
arachnids (15-45 mm long) are mostly brownish or
yellowish and often hairy.
They differ from the only other North American
family, Ammotrechnidae, in having a straight
front of the head and 1 or 2 claws on the first
pair of legs, rather than a rounded or pointed
head and no claws.
Wind Scorpions, including Sun Scorpions
(Eremobates gladiolus) are easily recognized by
the pair of large, pincerlike chelicerae on the
head in front of the mouth and by the slight,
waistlike constriction near the middle of the
body. Unlike the broadly joined cephalothorax and
abdomen of scorpions, windscorpions have 3
distinct body regions - a segmented
cephalothoracic area with 2 eyes at the front
margin, a 3-segmented thorax, and a 10-segmented
The chelicerae are used independently of each
other to chew food - one pair holds the prey,
while the other cuts it. The long, slender
pedipalps do not have pincers and are used to
scoop up water and bring it to the mouth. The
first pair of legs are longer than the others and
function in conjunction with the pedipalps as
feelers. The other 3 pairs of legs are used for
Additionally, specialists identify this order by
minute, T-shaped organs on the hind pairs of
In British Columbia, Sun Scorpions are apparently
restricted to the south Okanagan Valley.
No information is available at this time.
Sun Scorpions live in sandy, dry areas, hiding
under stones or in shallow burrows during the
Why is it endangered?
Rare invertebrates of the south Okanagan and
Similkameen valleys such as this species are
threatened not by direct exploitation, but by
loss or degradation of their habitats. They are
at risk because their ecosystems are at risk.
The grasslands of the southern interior of the
province are a valuable agricultural resource,
and their rich soils have been ploughed and
irrigated to produce tree fruits, grapes, and
vegetables. Pesticide use has probably had a
great impact on native insects living in around
agricultural areas. As well, heavy grazing has
altered the plant composition of grasslands,
changing the invertebrate communities.
The massive diversity of invertebrate species in
British Columbia makes it very difficult for
entomologists to do a literature or collection
survey to determine which species are endangered
or threatened. Specialized, detailed surveys will
be required for almost every species that is
suspected of being endangered. Despite a general
ignorance about invertebrate distribution,
information is known about a number of species
that are confined to threatened habitats of very
limited extent in the Thompson-Okanagan valleys.
Females lay about 50 eggs in subterranean
burrows, then stand guard over the eggs and young
for up to several weeks until the young molt for
the first time.
Adult Sun Scorpions usually live only a few
They use their jaws to capture and crush their
invertebrate prey. They prey on insects and small
vertebrates, including lizards.
Sources of more information
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American
Insects and Spiders, 1980, p. 935
Portions: Copyright 1995 by
the Royal British Columbia Museum.