Monday, May 26, 2008


This is an entire arachnid order that I've never seen alive in their natural habitat. Kenya has a few large species of the camel spider, or solfugid, that I am extremely hopeful about seeing and photographing. Truth be told I'll be more than happy to find just one small specimen. The solfugids are a really strange ancient group, their closest living relatives are thought to be scorpions. Even though 99% of species lack venom, their scissor like jaws (largest jaw/body ratio in the living world) make up for this by quickly tearing prey apart.

I thought about solfugids today after stumbling across this youtube video. Youtube is an unbelievably good source for unique glimpses of the natural world via amateur video. The soldiers were probably trying to fight these animals, but something else happened. As far as I know this is the only video of solfugids mating and their method is scarily unique, even among arachnids.

**Caution** Video contains adult language/commentary.
See the video here:

Camera practice!

Thanks to the improving weather in Ithaca I've finally gotten a chance to take my new camera out. I'm trying to learn as much as possible about shooting big objects (like mammals) from far away and small objects (like spiders) from close up before arriving in Kenya. I owe a big thanks to my friend Stephanie's mom, who is lending me a really nice macro lens so I can get as close up as possible with all the bugs.

Tarantula! This is one of the South American giants. African species are generally not as colorful.

Wolf spider with eggsac.

Deer, taken with my telephoto lens. This lens has incredible zoom capabilities (better than the binoculars I borrowed from Cornell!).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's not all about spiders...

In terms of arachnid diversity in the desert, scorpions are second to none. Kenya is known to be home to 24 scorpion species in three different families. I'm getting excited to find some of these in the wild! Scorpions glow under blacklight, so I am bringing two portable lights to search for these creatures in the field. I hope to photograph and check off as many species from the list below as possible. Not to worry, scorpions are secretive creatures and the chances of being stung are minimal.

P. imperator is not found in Kenya, but five of its close relatives are. That's okay, I already have a picture with this species.

Scorpions of Kenya

(Few scorpions are dangerous, red denotes species to be careful around)


Babycurus buettneri

Babycurus jacksoni

Babycurus wituensis

Hottentotta eminii

Hottentotta minax

Hottentotta polystictus

Hottentotta trilineatus

Isometrus maculatus

Lychas burdoi

Lychas obsti

Odonturus dentatus

Parabuthus granimanus granimanus

Parabuthus granulatus

Parabuthus liosoma

Parabuthus pallidus

Uroplectes fischeri fischeri

Uroplectoides emiliae


Iomachus politus politus

Opisthacanthus rugiceps


Pandinus bellicosus

Pandinus cavimanus

Pandinus exitialis

Pandinus pallidus

Pandinus viatoris