Introduction: What are Solifuges?

Members of the arachnid order Solifugae, are a diverse and fascinating, yet poorly understood, order of mostly nocturnal, arthropod predators notable for their massively powerful two-segmented chelicerae (jaws), voracious appetite, and tremendous speed (Punzo, 1998). These arachnids are found in xeric habitats throughout the world where they are known by a variety of local names including camel spiders, false spiders, haarskeerders, roman spiders, sun spiders, and wind scorpions.

Many solifuges are able to maintain a rapid speed when hunting for longer than most other arachnids. As they run, they hold their front appendages, called pedipalps, aloft giving them the appearance of eight-legged zombies. These pedipalps are covered in sensory setae – the solifuges use their pedipalps to sense what is going on around them. When they encounter an insect or other arthropod, they will use eversible organs at the tips of their pedipalps, called suctorial organs, to hold onto the insect and bring it close (Willemart et al. 2010), then tear into the prey with their powerful chelicerae. As with the majority of arachnids, solifuges, despite having such large, powerful chelicerae, cannot chew and swallow their prey; instead, they egest digestive enzymes to break down the tissues of the prey and then suck in the pre-liquified, predigested meal.

Mating behavior is quite unusual and is described under Biology – Courtship & Mating and Reproductive Biology.

Representatives of different solifugid families.

Representatives of different solifugid families.

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