It’s a Haarskeerder!

OK! I’ve found the identity of our nocturnal monster insect.  Its a sulpugid of the order solifugae – more commonly known as “haarskeerder” or “jag spinnekop”.  Its not a spider, but it is an arachnid – which essentially means “it has eight legs”.  Scorpions and spiders also belong to this class.

The afrikaans names translate like this:  “Haarskeerder” means “hair shaver” as they are rumoured to have the ability to cut hair with their sharp claws. “Jag spinnekop” means “hunting spider” because it looks awfully spider like, and its very aggressive in its habits.

Just to remind you – here is the beast itself:


Here are some quotes about solpugids.  This one from Trek Nature, Gerhard Theron writes:

They are very agile animals and swift when fleeing, resembling small balls of thistle blown by the wind over the sand and as a consequence they are also known as “wind spiders”. Because they have the tendency to avoid heat they tend to run from shadow to shadow. Frequently the shadow of man is also chosen, causing great concern, since this gives the impression that they are giving chase.

And this lovely description of its claws (jaws?), or chelicerae from the same source:

It is said that solifugids have the most formidable pair of chelicerae in the animal world. Each chelicera consists of two segments or fangs. The fangs have strong teeth, which like the blades of shears, move against each other in a vertical plane. The prey is held and passed to and fro through the chelicerae with the help of the pedipalps until it is chewed to a soft pulp. While chewing the whole front part of the body moves in rhythmic motion. There are no internal venom glands or ducts and the bite of a solifugid is not venomous, only painful because of its severity.

There is a whole website devoted to this order.

Well!  At least I now know what it is.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Virginia
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 18:42:09

    Hi, I found my way here because you are the BlogHer of the week. I’m happy to discover you and your blog and must say that the idea of featuring BlogHers each week does help us find some interesting new bloggers.

    I was fascinated by these bug photos. Where I come from we have a fearsome looking thing called a vinegaroon (scroll down for photo) that squirts vinegar at you when it gets riled up. Your Haarskeerder reminds me of the vinegaroon.

  2. masha
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 20:01:31

    Yep – I came across that lovely critter while searching for what our version was. I believe they are related.

  3. leo
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 20:25:24

    i killed one when i were in kenya about 2 weeks ago and it was realy big.

  4. anja mans
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 14:51:12

    does haarskeerders really eat/shave hair ?

  5. mashadutoit
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:44:39

    Anja – I think it is just a story. But I’m not 100% sure 🙂 * *

  6. Lyne
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 00:17:14

    It does shave your hair completely bold, but after 3 months it starts growing again.

  7. Ruby Fourie
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 06:08:53

    Baie dankie vir die inligting, by my seun se werk is baie van die spinnekoppe en wou net weet wat se spinnekop dit is en of hy giftig is.

  8. mashadutoit
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 06:30:42

    ‘n Plesier, Ruby – hoop dit het gehelp 🙂

  9. Jeanne
    Oct 27, 2012 @ 09:09:50

    What can be done to help hair grow again – its been months now!

  10. Bernard
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 14:43:15

    Hi there indeed a big spider yes! Monday 28 Jan 2013, after attending a youth service, it was round about 22:30 we’r living on a cotage 1km outside Lutzville winyard farm, the house face briek and the spider blends in, but as i approach the door i see movement, and thats when i spot the huge orange,red spider sitting on top of the door post on the outside wall, lucky we have many cats so i flip the spider down and one of the cats bites its with a fatal shot dead. And eats it with grass salad. They are but really creepy looking spiders.

  11. sonsia
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 22:04:31

    Hey there I want to know I am living in carlitzdorp a few months and realy are so afraid of scorpions and spiders and had a few big ones in my house what kind should I look out for that could be bad for me or my family

  12. mashadutoit
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 07:05:48

    Hi Sonsia The spiders have more need to be afraid of humans, than humans need to be afraid of the spiders! 🙂 More seriously — as long as you leave them alone, they will not do anything to hurt you. Those big spiders are not dangerous at all. At the very worst, they might bite you if you do something stupid like trying to pick them up. Most of the time,they will stay well out of your way so no need to worry.

  13. Raxs
    Apr 24, 2013 @ 15:13:11

    I’d like to say to “mashadutoit” that there are a few things you are not entireley right about! Firstly, Haarskeerders are not spiders, they are solifugae. They can be quite peceaful, yes, but they can be found very agressive. They have been known to chase humans without any provoking. They shouldn’t be too common but when they do show up there is not much you can do to move it. If you get frequent visits from these guys the best you can do is set up a trap to contain them, then release them in a shady area away from your home. They enjoy the shade so if you provide it for them they wont have any need to return to your home. You should never try to contain them by hand, brooms, boxes and paper will never help you, they will get furious and attack anyone they can see. Worst case scenario is that you get bitten, although the are not poisonous they are prove to having very irritable hairs that can irritate skin, if you do get bitten, all you can do is wash the would carefully and make sure it doesn’t get infected.

  14. jean
    Jan 14, 2016 @ 22:50:45

    Hallo raxs het sopas n haarskeerder dood gemaak in my kamer wil net weet loop hulle in groepe of aleen? Want ek sal nie nog een wil he wat oor my bed hardloop nie wat is jou opinie mashadutoit ek slaap sommer met die lig aan sodat daar niks skaduwee is nie of wat anders kan ek doen ek voel daar sal geen slaap vir my wees venaand nie want ek wil nie venaand my haare geskeer he nie eers die naweek verstaan jy nou beter mashadutoit en raxs kan jul asb net vir my raad gee oor hierdie ernstige situasie hierdie haarskeerders vat bje doom voor hul dood so dit veroorsaak vir my n hoee doom rekening. Asb help!!!!!!!!!!

  15. mashadutoit
    Jan 15, 2016 @ 07:12:06

    Jean, alles wat ek op die internet kon kry se die volgende: Hulle is nie giftig nie. As hulle reg kry om jou te byt kan dit seer wees, soos ‘n slegte knyp, maar hulle kan jou nie andersins beskadig nie. Die storie dat hulle jou hare skeer is blykbaar nie waar nie, dis net ‘n storie so ek sou ook nie daaroor worry nie. Hulle woon nie in kolonies of groepe nie, hulle is jag diere wat rond swerf om hulle prooi te vang. Hulle is selde binne in huise en woon nie in huise soos sommige ander goggas nie, maar sal soms perongeluk in ‘n huis beland. Dis moontlik is dat jy nog een kan teekom as daar baie van hulle in jou omgewing is, maar dis onwaarskynlik dat jy ‘n infestasie in hou huis het! 🙂 Ek hoop dit help.

  16. Nicole
    Jan 18, 2016 @ 09:02:33

    Ek het so twee maande gelede een so groot soos die een die foto in my huis gekry, so drie weke nadat daardie grote gevang en dood gemaak was kom daar NOG een, maar kleiner as die grote. Vrydag aand toe kom daar nog een, maar daardie was baie,baie kleiner, amper soos n baba haarskeerder. Ek wil net weet of hulle kan nes maak in ‘n mens se huis. want soos dit vir my lyk was die grootte die Pa, die middel size een die Ma en die heel kleintjie die baba. HELP ASB!!! want die goed is creepy en ek slaap niks nie. want ek moet heeltyd kyk wanner daar nog een gaan kom.

  17. mashadutoit
    Jan 18, 2016 @ 09:12:40

    Ek het geen idee nie. Van wat ek lees, lyk dit asof hulle ‘n klom eiers le in ‘n gatjie en hulle daar los. Hulle maak nie ‘n familie groep nie, en hulle swerf orals rond, hulle het nie eintlik ‘n nes nie, of nie wat ek van weet nie.

  18. Hanna
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 22:18:52

    Hulle Skeer nie hare nie! Hulle jaag ander gif goed soos skerpioene weg en/of vreet hulle. Mense wat hulle doodmaak se koppe moet gelees word. Hulle is eerder n aanwins rondom jou huis en beland heel per ongeluk in jou huis op soek na skaduwee. Soms is die omgewing waarin jy woon bloot deel van hul Habitat en sal meer as een voorkom, maar hulle is enkel lopend. Hulle is nie giftig nie en sal jou nie aanval nie. Ook is hulle nie aggresief nie.

  19. Elize
    Dec 28, 2016 @ 22:18:11

    Just to correct you…

    The ‘Jagspinnekop’ is actually a spider.

    The ‘haarskeerder’ that you refer to is called a ‘Roman-spinnekop’ even though it is classified as an ant.

    Two very different spiders/ants.

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