Study of Spiders

Research in the Arachnology Department is concentrated on the medically important spiders in the genus Latrodectus (Theridiidae), the genera Cheiracanthium and Cheiramiona (Eutichurgidae) and the genera Loxosceles and Sicarius (Sicariidae) of the Afrotropical Region. Other research projects include studies on spider biodiversity and rare forest spiders of the genera Eriauchenius and Afrarchaea (Archeaidae), the distribution of Opiliones in southern Africa and the taxonomic revision of the South African Pseudoscorpionida.

SANSA (South African National Survey of Arachnida) projects:

  • Opiliones of the Free State Province – completed in 2002
  • Opiliones of southern Africa – completed in 2009
  • Spiders of the Free State Province – ongoing
  • Scorpions of the Free State Province – ongoing
  • Pseudoscorpions of South Africa – ongoing

(All photos contained in these pages have copyright and cannot be used without written consent)


Russian visitor to the spider collection

Russian visitor to the spider collection

11 January 2017
Dr Galina Azarkina visited the Arachnology Department in November 2015 to study jumping spiders (Salticidae). She is the curator of the Arachnida Collection at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk.



Museum Scientist

Jan Andries Neethling MSc

Jan_AndriesJan registered for B.Sc Microbiology at the University of the Free State in 2006, obtaining the degree with distinction in 2009.  In 2010 he registered for third year B.Sc Entomology, obtaining distinctions in all the registered subjects and was consequently accepted into the Honours program at the Zoology and Entomology department in 2011 where he specialised in Arachnid taxonomy, but also did courses in Forensic Entomology and Plant-Insect Interactions.

At the end of 2011 he obtained his Honours (cum laude) with his thesis: “Effect of moon phases on the activity patterns of trapdoor spiders, scorpions and solifugids at the Free State National Botanical Gardens”.

He recently (2015) obtained his Master of Science (cum laude) with his thesis: “Revision of the South African Geogarypidae (Arachnida: Pseudoscorpiones)”, which represents the first holistic taxonomic study of a South African pseudoscorpion family, taking both molecular and morphological characters into consideration.

He is currently busy with the taxonomic revision of the South African Pseudoscorpionida fauna.

Chief Research Assistant

Trudie-PeyperTrudie Peyper

Trudie Peyper is a National Museum Staff Member in the Arachnology Department

Trudie Peyper grew up in Bloemfontein. She completed a B Agric degree at the University of the Free State. She started to work at the Museum in 1984 and is currently a Chief Research Assistant in the Arachnology Department.


Leon. N. Lotz

Latrodectus Walckenaer, 1805
6 species in southern Africa.

Cheiracanthium C.L. Koch, 1839
15 species in southern Africa plus 1 new species being described.

Cheiramiona  Lotz &Dippenaar-Schoeman, 1999
22 species in southern Africa plus 16 new species being described.

Loxosceles Heineken & Lowe, 1832
7 species in southern Africa.

Sicarius  Walckenaer, 1847
6 species in southern Africa.

Afrarchaea Heineken & Lowe, 1832
7 species in southern Africa.

Spiders of the Free State Province, South Africa.
At present there are 59 spider (Araneae) families of the Free State Province, South Africa.

Jan A. Neethling

Afrogarypus Beier, 1931
7 species in South Africa plus 2 new species being described.

Geogarypus Chamberlin, 1930
2 species in South Africa plus 6 new species being described.

Gymnobisium Beier, 1931
2 species in South Africa plus 4 new species being described.

False-scorpions of South Africa.

At present there are 17 false-scorpion (Pseudoscorpiones) families in South Africa.

Free State Spider Survey

Why are we conducting a survey?
Spiders are extremely important animals. They occur in vast numbers and are the primary predators of the equally common insects. Because they are so common, they are often encountered by people and we receive many enquiries requesting information about spiders. Many people needlessly fear spiders, as most are harmless to humans.

Despite their importance and abundance, not much is known about the spiders of the Free State. There are no truly comprehensive collections of spiders from this area, as most collectors concentrated on the eastern part of South Africa.

Spiders are often missed; they are overlooked scientifically and often despised or feared by the public. However, spiders play a critical role in the web of life we so often take for granted. More information about spiders is needed, especially those in our own backyards, if we are to ensure their future and the health of our environment.

How will the Free State Spider Survey work?
In order to conduct a large-scale survey of spiders, we need the help of the public. We request the public to collect spiders in their homes and gardens, fill out a simple data sheet about their collection and send or bring them to the National Museum. Our experts will identify the specimens, fill out a collecting record, and accession them in the collection. If requested, the identity of the spider will be sent to the collector. Spiders collected in the survey will be used to create a database about the distribution and abundance of the species. Results will be reported on the web site. Other arachnids, such as scorpions, may also be submitted.

Disclaimer: The Museum appreciates your assistance in this scientific project. If you have any concerns about participating, we suggest you do NOT participate. The Museum cannot be responsible for the treatment of bites or for any injury or illness resulting from the project.

Data Sheet

Your name:

Address where spider was collected:

Contact telephone number(s):


Do you want to be notified about the identity of your spider? Yes or no?

Date collected:
Time collected:  AM / PM

Location: In house or outdoors?

Any other details you want us to know (e.g. under stones, on plants, in a web, etc.)

Email or send to:

Mr L.N. Lotz
Arachnology Department
National Museum
PO Box 266
Bloemfontein, 9300

Tel: +27 51 447 9609

Other Surveys

Opiliones (harvestmen) – under construction

Scorpiones (scorpions) – under construction

Solifugae (sun-spiders) – under construction

Pseudoscorpiones (false-scorpions) – under construction

Publications - Scientific Articles

Leon N. Lotz

Lotz, L.N. 2014.New species of Cheiracanthium (Araneae: Eutichuridae) from Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. Zootaxa 3857: 301-332.

Haddad, C.R., Dippenaar-Schoeman, A.S., Foord, S.H., Lotz, L.N. & Lyle, R. 2013.The  faunistic diversity of spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) of the South African Grassland Biome, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, DOI:10.1080/0035919X.2013.773267: 1-26.

Dippenaar-Schoeman, A., Van den Berg, A., Lyle, R., Haddad, C., Foord, S. & Lotz, L., 2012,‘Die diversiteit van Suid-Afrikaanse spinnekoppe (Arachnida: Araneae): Dokumentering van ’n nasionale opname’, Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie 32(1), Art. #375, 7 pages.

Lotz, L.N. 2012.The family Sicariidae in the Afrotropical Region. Zootaxa 3522: 1-41.

Foord, S., Dippenaar-Schoeman, A., Haddad, C., Lotz, L.N. & Lyle, R. 2011.The faunistic diversity of spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) of the Savanna. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa66(3): 170-201.

Lotz, L.N. 2011. The genus Cheiracanthium (Araneae: Miturgidae) in the Afrotropical Region. 3. Description of four new species. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 27: 21-36.

Lotz, L.N. 2011. Three new harvestmen species from southern Africa (Arachnida: Opiliones). Journal of Afrotropical Zoology 7: 3-8.

Dippenaar-Schoeman, A.S., Haddad, C.R., Foord, S., Lyle, R., Lotz, L., Helberg, L., Mathebula, S., Van den Berg, A., Marais, P., Van den Berg, A.M., Van Niekerk, E. & Jocqué, R. 2010.First Atlas of the Spiders of South Africa (Arachnida: Araneae). South African National Survey of Arachnida Technical Report 2010 version 1, 1158pp.

Lotz, L.N. 2009.Harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones) in southern Africa - an annotated catalogue with notes on distribution. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 25(1): 1-46.

Lotz, L.N. 2007.The genus Cheiracanthium (Araneae: Miturgidae) in the Afrotropical Region. 2. Description of new species. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 23(5): 145-184.

Lotz, L.N. 2007.The genus Cheiracanthium (Araneae: Miturgidae) in the Afrotropical Region. 1. Review of known species. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 23(1): 1-76.

Lotz, L.N. 2006.Afrotropical Archaeidae: 3. The female of Eriauchenius cornutus and new species of Afrarchaea (Arachnida: Araneae) from South Africa. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 22(4): 113-127.

Lotz, L.N. 2005.A new species of Cheiramiona (Araneae: Miturgidae) from Namibia. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 21(2): 13-22.

Kok, O.B., Lotz, L.N. & Haddad, C.R. 2004.Diversity and Ecology of Spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) of the Dorsai Plateau, Northern Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Sciences 7(10): 1689-1694.

Lotz, L.N. 2003. Afrotropical Archaeidae: 2. New species of the genera Archaea and Afrarchaea(Arachnida: Araneae). Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 19(9): 221-240.

Lotz, L.N. 2002. The Opiliones (Arachnida) of the Free State Province, South Africa. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 18(8): 161-188.

Lotz, L.N. 2002.A revision of the Afrotropical genus Cheiramiona (Araneae: Miturgidae: Eutichurinae). Annales Musee Royal de l’Afrique Centrale (série Zoologie)290: 39-86.

Lotz, L.N. & Dippenaar-Schoeman, A.S. 1999. Cheiramiona, a new Afrotropical spider genus (Araneae: Miturgidae: Eutichurinae). Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 15(2): 29-44.

Lotz, L.N. 1999. Distribution of the opilionid Polycoryphus asper Loman, 1902 in southern Africa. Newsletter of the British Arachnological Society 86: 13-14.

Lotz, L.N. 1998. The description of the male of Lactrodectus menavodi (Araneae: Theridiidae) from Madagascar with new records from the Comoros. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 14(3): 73-79.

Lotz, L.N. 1996. The female of Rastellus florisbad (Araneae: Ammoxenidae). Journal of African Zoology 110: 367-368.

Lotz, L.N. 1996. Afrotropical Archaeidae (Araneae): 1. New species of Afrarchaea with notes on Afrarchaea godfreyi (Hewitt, 1919). Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 12(5): 141-160.

Lotz, L.N. 1995/6. The genus Cheiracanthium (Araneae: Clubionidae) in southern Africa. M.Sc. Thesis, University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein.

Lotz, L.N. 1994. Revision of the genus Latrodectus (Araneae: Theridiidae) in Africa. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 10(1): 1-60.

Lotz, L.N., Seaman, M.T. & Kok, D.J. 1991. Surface-active spiders (Araneae) of a site in semi-arid central South Africa. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, Bloemfontein 7(11): 529-540.

Jan A. Neethling

Neethling, J.A. & Haddad, C.R. 2013.Arboreal spider assemblages associated with four tree species in the Grassland Biome of central South Africa (Arachnida: Araneae). Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 68(2): 123-131.

Haddad, C.R., Neethling, J.A. & Lyle, R. 2011.Spinotrachelas montanus sp. n., the first Afromontane representative in the genus (Araneae: Corinnidae). African Invertebrates 52(2): 345-352.

Publications - Popular Articles

Leon N. Lotz

Lotz, L.N. 2012. Spinnekop bog-stories. Culna 67: 8-9.

Lotz, L.N. 2011. Spinnekop-legendes. Culna 66:16-17.

Lotz, L.N. 2010. Identifikasie en benaming van spinnekoppe. Culna 65: 28-29.

Lotz, L.N. 2010. Hogsback – a harvestman haven. The Spider Club News 26(3): 10.

Lotz, L.N. 2010. Opiliones (harvestman) hotspots in South Africa. SANSA News 13: 8.

Lotz, L.N. 2009. Spin-spin - waar het spinnekoppe leer spin? Culna 64: 15-16.

Lotz, L.N. 2008. Hou die booswigte buite: spinnekoppe se veiligheidshekke. Culna 63: 41.

Lotz, L.N. 2006. Bobbejane op agt bene. Culna 61: 22-23.

Lotz, L.N. 2005. Spiders of the Free State. Nouveau: Sept.:92-93.

Lotz, L.N. 2005. Spinnerakke – webbe by dosyne. Culna 60: 23-24.

Lotz, L.N. 2004. Vals-skerpioene. Culna 59: 34.

Lotz, L.N. 2003. Langnekspinnekoppe. Culna 58: 26.

Lotz, L.N. 2002. Spoegspinnekoppe. Culna 57: 5.

Lotz, L.N. 2000. Reënspinnekoppe. Culna 55: 17-18.

Lotz, L.N. 1999. Skerpione van die Vrystaat. Culna 54: 30.

Lotz, L.N. 1998. Grasperkwolwe. Culna 53: 24.

Avenant, N., Irish, J. & Lotz, L.N. 1998. Kogelbeengrot - 'n besondere natuurerfenis in die Noord-Kaap. Culna 53: 10.

Lotz, L.N. 1997. Button spiders and stone houses. Spider Club News 12(3): 8-9.

Lotz, L.N. 1997. Skerpioene van Bloemfontein. Culna 52: 14.

Lotz, L.N. 1996. Hooiwaens in die Vrystaat. Culna 51: 21.

Lotz, L.N. 1996. Tussengetyspinnekoppe. Culna 50: 11.

Lotz, L.N. 1995. Sandduikerspinnekoppe. Culna 49: 27.

Lotz, L.N. 1995. Witoog-kribellumspinnekoppe. Culna 48: 17.

Lotz, L.N. 1994. Tregterwebspinnekoppe. Culna 47: 28.

Lotz, L.N. 1994. The button spiders of southern Africa (Latrodectus: Araneae: Theridiidae). Spider Club News 9(3): 9-16.

Lotz, L.N. 1994. Die wanindruk van spinnekop-gevaar. Culna 46: 41-42.

Lotz, L.N. 1993. Spinnekop-sy. Culna 45: 17.

Lotz, L.N. 1993. Die ongewensde haarkapper. Culna 44: 9.

Lotz, L.N. 1992. Spinnekop parasiete. Culna 43: 14-15.

Lotz, L.N. 1991. Spinnekop verwarrings. Culna 41: 27.

Lotz, L.N. 1991. Spinnekoppe se oë. Culna 40: 12.

Lotz, L.N. 1990. Die spinnekop se spyskaart. Culna 39: 4-5.

Lotz, L.N. 1990. Die grondwonende spinnekoppe van die Florisbad-navorsingstasie. Culna 38: 23-24.

Lotz, L.N. 1988. Kleurverandering by spinnekoppe. Nasionale Museum Nuus 34: 3.


The Arachnology collection started as a subsection of the Entomology Department in 1982, but became a full department in 2003. The collection currently comprises ca. 52 000 specimens. These are mostly arachnids (excluding Acari), but other invertebrates are also included to a lesser extent (Myriapoda, Mollusca and Crustacea).

Araneae42 120
Opiliones3 314
Scorpiones1 058
Solifugae1 931
Other3 468
 52 430

The specimens are almost all from the Republic of South Africa and have been collected from all over the country.

Type Catalogue


Loan Policy

Conditions of loan

The acceptance of material on loan implies that the following conditions have been accepted:

  • Loan material must be handled with the utmost care and must be securely packed for return by insured or registered mail.
  • National Museum specimens described as holotypes, paratypes, allotypes or some other category or type, or used to supplement the description of a new taxon or the redescription of an existing species, are to be clearly labeled as such, and must be returned.
  • All labels and numbers given to specimens/objects must be retained and under no circumstances should any of these be discarded or altered. Where applicable the catalogue numbers of specimens/objects must be given in descriptions.
  • The National Museum must be credited in any publication when referring to this material. At least two copies of any such publication must be sent to this Museum.
  • Without express permission no specimen or object may be altered, dissected, prepared, restored, cleaned or treated — either by mechanical or chemical means.
  • Casting of specimens/objects is only allowed under specific conditions. Permission therefore must be obtained beforehand.
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