ENVIRONMENT

They’re sun spiders not scorpions says local expert

Sep 6, 2022, 3:00 PM
Image of sun spider, which some in southern Utah may be confusing for scorpions. (Canva)...
Image of sun spider, which some in southern Utah may be confusing for scorpions. (Canva)
(Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY – Attention arachnophobes, the reported scorpion sightings in St. George could actually be sun spiders. At least sometimes.

A closer look shows the creature has 10 legs compared to the eight legs on a scorpion. Zach Schumm, Arthropod Diagnostician and Urban IPM Associate, with Utah State University, said he can understand the confusion.  

“If an individual does not know anything about sun spiders, but does know what a scorpion looks like, it is only reasonable to identify the organism as the thing you are familiar with if they look somewhat similar,” said Schumm in an email to KSL NewsRadio. 

Schumm said these critters typically avoid humans. He also said that they can bite but are not dangerous because they do not have venom. If you were bitten by a sun spider, it would feel more like a pinch, Schumm said.

And hold on to your arachnophobia — Schunn said sun spiders should be embraced.

“Sun spiders should be a welcomed member of the landscape, and they can even be considered beneficial due to their predatory nature upon other insects and even some small vertebrates,” said Schumm. The same is true for scorpions.

More sightings of sun spiders in southern Utah may be linked to the monsoonal moisture the area has experienced. Awareness may also play a part.

“As hype get out from news and other social media sources, it can result in increased awareness and reports from the public,” Schumm said.

If you do see a sun spider, Schumm urges you to take advantage of it.

“Sun spiders, like most spiders, get a bad rep. If you just sit back and observe for a minute, you may find that the thing you are fearful of is actually quite beautiful and interesting.”

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They’re sun spiders not scorpions says local expert