Wheel spiders (Carparachne aureoflava) are arachnids who come from sub-Saharan Africa. They are members of the Sparassidae or "huntsman" family of spiders. The arthropods are frequently referred to as "golden wheeling spiders." The wheel element of their moniker is a reference to the manner in which they evade predation threats.
Namib Desert Spiders
Wheel spiders are inhabitants of the Namib Desert. The Namib Desert is one of the biggest deserts on the planet. It's also the most senior, guessed to be roughly 55 million years old. It's located on southern portions of the African continent. Much of the desert is in western parts of Namibia. Some areas of the desert are also in nearby South Africa and Angola. Despite the toughness of the arid setting, it accommodates a grand assortment of flora and fauna. Mountains and sand dunes are just a couple of the diverse sights of the desert.
Wheel spiders in the Namib Desert live in sand dunes, generally on somewhat steep inclines. They construct burrows of considerable depth. Doing this helps them get refuge from the scorching heat of the desert. The dig more proficiently on softer inclines, but that makes them more vulnerable to the family Pompilidae wasps or spider wasps who are major predators of wheel spiders. Digging is a strong suit of the wasps. When they're on the lookout for wheel spiders to target, they can move substantial amounts of sand -- think 10 pounds or so. Wheel spiders' burrows generally keep them safe from predators, spider wasps aside. When spider wasps seize wheel spiders, they sting them, which immobilizes them. They then lay single eggs in the spiders. Once the youngsters emerge from the eggs, they hungrily consume the spiders while they're alive.
Dodging Wasp Predators
When wheel spiders are in perilous situations with their wasp enemies, they flee by bending their limbs. When they do this, their bodies become wheel-like in outline. This enables them to conveniently turn round and round down their sand dune environments -- a la wheels. Since wheel spiders, like all spiders, have sluggish metabolisms, endurance in running isn't possible for them. They craftily make up for that shortcoming by literally wheeling themselves out of sight.
Wheel spiders are nocturnal creatures, as are the majority of their fellow huntsman kin. They spend their nights roaming around considerable portions of their dune residences, scouring diligently both for their next meals and for individuals of the opposite sex. Some typical food items for the species are other spiders along with insects such as beetles. They also occasionally dine on reptiles, notably tiny geckos. When their food quests are complete, they promptly make their way back to their burrow abodes.
- Southern African Wildlife: Mike Unwin
- The Private Life of Spiders; P.D. Hillyard
- The Biology of Deserts; David Ward
- Spider Silk; Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig
- World Wildlife Fund: Namib Desert - Southwestern Africa
- PBS Nature: The Desert Lions - Secrets of Survival - Life in the Namib Desert
Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images