The Arachnid Order Solifugae



Hunting Behavior
PreyScavenging BehaviorFeeding Behavior
Life HistoryCourtship and MatingReproductive Biology
Growth and Development

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

Most solifuges are agile, cursorial predators capable of covering considerable distances in search of food.  They have frequently been recorded foraging on open ground in sparsely vegetated arid regions, but are quite capable of climbing vegetation in grasslands and scrublands.  Rapid, seemingly random, locomotory activity is generally considered to be the normal searching strategy (Muma 1966, Wharton 1987, Punzo 1998), though there are obvious exceptions for certain termitophilous species (Lawrence 1963, Muma 1966). Several observations suggest that some species at least occasionally stalk their prey (Cloudsley-Thompson 1977) and the short-legged mole solifuges of the family Hexisopodidae from western southern Africa, though occasionally found on the surface, probably forage beneath the surface of their sandy substrate.  Some of the earliest observations (e. g. Pocock 1897) suggest that tactile stimuli are important in prey location and capture.  More recent studies have verified the importance of tactile stimuli (Bolwig 1952, Muma 1966) and visual stimuli (Muma 1966).  There is also some suggestion that they can detect substrate-borne vibrations (Wharton 1987). Extensive work has been done on the structure of the malleoli, the unique rachet organs on the legs of solifuges.  While the function is still not entirely clear, they are believed to have chemosensory properties (Brownell and Farley, 1974), and may therefore be used in prey detection.  Punzo (1998) provides a good summary of previous work on Hunting Behavior.

Literature Cited:

Bolwig, N. 1952. Observations on the behavior and mode of orientation in hunting Solifugae. J. Entomol. Soc. Southern Africa 15: 239-240.

Brownell, P. H., and R. D. Farley. 1974. The organization of the malleolar sensory system in the solpugid Chanbria sp. Tissue and Cell, 6: 471-485.

Cloudsley-Thompson, J. L. 1977. Adaptational biology of Solifugae (Solpugida). Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society, 4: 61-67.

Lawrence, R. F. 1963. The Solifugae of South West Africa. Cimbebasia, 8: 1-28.

Muma, M. H. 1966. Feeding behavior of North American Solpugida (Arachnida). The Florida Entomologist, 49: 199-216.

Pocock, R. I. 1897. On the genera and species of tropical African Arachnida of the order Solifugae, with notes upon the taxonomy and habits of the group.  Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 20: 249-272.

Punzo, F. 1998. The Biology of Camel-spiders (Arachnida, Solifugae).  Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston.

Wharton, R. A. 1987. Biology of the diurnal Metasolpuga picta (Kraepelin) (Solifugae, Solpugidae) compared with that of nocturnal species. Journal of Arachnology, 14: 363-383.


Galeodes caspius subfuscus, immature, with prey (unidentified insect), Malaisary Mt. foothills, Almaty area, Kazakhstan.  (Photo by Alexander V. Gromov)
























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