With the change of season, you may have noticed that the very scary looking solifugids have started making frequent appearances on your walls and floors, or in your shadow.
The sight of this critter can cause your blood to chill from its bloodcurdling appearance, with the body of a hairy spider and a face with jaws that resemble a crab’s pincers. What is particularly frightening is the way they run towards you and seem to actually follow you through the house.
With this sort of appearance and behaviour description, Solifugids can appear to be your worst nightmare. But what are the true facts about these very unique creatures?
- Solifugids go by many different names, such as "sun spider", "camel spider", "red roman" and "wind scorpion".
- Although their many names have the word "spider" or "scorpion" in them, they are neither true scorpions (order Scorpiones) nor true spiders (order Araneae). However they do belong to the Arachnid family.
- The main difference between Solifugae and spiders is that Solifugae lack the ability to spin webs as a result of having no spinnerets and silk producing organs. Solifugae also lack the adaption for considerate mobility, an adaption that spiders need in order to be efficient web spinners.
- Solifugids, or sun spiders, completely lack venom, another characteristic that separates them from true spiders.
- The prosoma contains the head, the mouthparts, and the somites that bear the legs and the pedipalps. The prosoma is also known as the “cephalothorax” which indicates that the prosoma on Solifugae forms both the head and thorax. The prosoma has a large, relatively advanced anterior carapace, which bears eyes and chelicerae, while a smaller posterior section bears the legs.
- Solifugae lack book lungs and instead breathe by means of an advanced tracheal system on the underside of the animal’s abdomen.
- Solifugids have large jaws and eight legs which help make them efficient predators. The large jaws allow them to take on large, difficult prey such as scorpions and the eight legs give them great speed and mobility.
- Solifugae are moderately small to large arachnids. The body length can range from 5 cm to 7 cm in most species. Larger species however can be up to 12 cm – 17 cm including body and legs.
What Are They Doing in Your House?
- Hunting for other insects, scorpions, spiders, lizards and any other bite size prey items they can overcome.
- Hiding from sunlight. The reason they run towards you is to acquire the shade from your shadow. At night time however, they will move towards the light.
Habitat and Habits:
- Solifugids are found in arid regions and semi-deserts, which is why they are fairly common on Ingwelala. They prefer hot, dry climates and rugged terrain.
- Solifugids heavily dislike sunlight. The Latin word “Solifugae” means to 'detest light'.
- For the reason that solifugids dislike light, they are nocturnal.
- Solifugid females may burrow into the ground in holes where it is dark and protected to lay her eggs. Solis come into the house seeking darkness and are mostly found in dark, quiet places, such as cupboards, attics, garages and dark bedrooms . They are also common where there is an established insect population which they depend on for food.
Solifugids, friend or foes?
- If Solifugids are common in your bungalow it may indicate that you have a pest problem. Removing these critters isn’t always recommended as they can help to reduce much less desirable nuisances such as cockroaches and scorpions.
- They are harmless and pose no threat unless provoked. If bitten, seek medical attention to ensure that infection does not arise.
By Paige Ezzey (Conservation Intern). Facts researched off the internet (Wikipedia and other solifugid related sites)