Feeding Behavior

[This section contributed by Dr. Robert A. Wharton and Kristie Reddick, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University]

Feeding behavior of solifuges has most often been recorded anecdotally (Punzo, 1998) with a few observations made during other work (Wharton 1981; Lawrence, 1949 1963). Solifuges use their massive chelicerae to macerate their prey by feeding it through the ‘cheliceral mill,’ where the upper fondal teeth rub back and forth against each other, grinding the exoskeleton and extracting liquid (Punzo, 1998). The suctorial organs at the tips of the pedipalps are very important for prey capture and manipulation and often have intial contact with the prey (Cushing et al. 2005; Punzo, 1998). Wharton (1987) observed Metasolpuga picta females occasionally using their palps to bring food closer to the chelicerae.

Punzo (1994, 1998) provides the best assessment of long-standing observations on feeding behavior, primarily because of the quality of the experimental approach and the detailed focus on prey preparation. Prey preparation in solifuges has been recorded for Eremobates mormonus, Eremorhax magnus and Eremobates marathoni (Punzo, 1998). These species of solifuge have been shown to remove certain parts of the body with higher chitin content (head, antennae, wings) and an average of 5 to 9% of total feeding time is devoted to prey preparation.

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