AAS Australasian Arachnological Society

Whip Spiders

Order Amblypygi

(compiled by Mark Harvey)


Charinus neocalidonicus opens in new window
Charinus neocalidonicus
(photo: R. Teale)

Whip spiders are flattened arachnids that lack a “tail” but possess very long whip-like first legs. These long legs are used as antennae, sensing the environment around them. The pedipalps are usually robust or very long and contain several sharp spines on the internal faces which helps to capture and secure their prey.


Whip spiders are found in most tropical regions of the world. They prefer to reside in tight crevices such as under rocks or under the bark of trees, but venture out at night. They feed on other invertebrates such as insects which are gently herded towards their mouthparts and pedipalps by their long antennae before they are grasped and dismembered.

Amblypygids in Australasia

The identity of many of the whip spiders in the Australasian region is fairly well resolved, although the larger genera such as Charinus, Charon and Stygophrynus pose some taxonomic problems. Charinus pescotti is found in the rainforests of northern Queensland where it can be found under rocks, logs and the bark of trees. Charon trebax has only been found at a single site near Townsville, while Charon oenpelli is known from the sandstone hills of Kakadu National Park. Charon gervaisii occurs on Christmas Island.


Four species of amblypygids are described from Australia, most recently three species in the genus Charon (Harvey and West 1998) (see also Australian Faunal Directory listing for Amblypygi)


  • Charinus pescotti Dunn (Queensland)


  • Charon gervaisii Harvey and West (Christmas Island)
  • Charon oenpelli Harvey and West (Northern Territory)
  • Charon trebax Harvey and West (Queensland)

New Zealand



Harvey, M.S. & West, P.L.J (1998). New species of Charon (Amblypygi, Charontidae) from northern Australia and Christmas Island. Journal of Arachnology 26: 273-284.

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reference: AAS – Australasian Arachnological Society
online: http://www.australasian-arachnology.org/arachnology/amblypygi/
©2005 AAS – date: 2018/11/04

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