Solifugae: Behaviour

Solifuges are enthusiastic predators. They are cursorial hunters and are well known for their speed, with some individuals clocked at around sixteen kilometers per hour. They will readily attack and feed on any prey they can successfully immobilize. They use eversible suctorial organs on the tips of their pedipalps to facilitate prey capture. Most species remain in shallow to deep burrows during the daytime, emerging after dark to hunt. However, a few species are known to be diurnal predators.

Reproductive behavior has only been documented for a few species. A male typically rushes at the female and clasps her with his chelicerae. Soon after male contact, the female becomes pliant and quiescent. The male then inserts his chelicerae deep into the female’s gonopore and a subsequent chewing motion is evident. In most families, the male then exudes a spermatophore from his own genital opening, picks up the spermatophore with his chelicerae, and re-inserts the chelicerae with the sperm packet into the female’s genital opening. In the New World Eremobatidae, the male places the sperm packet directly onto the female’s gonopore via genital-genital contact and then re-inserts his chelicerae to push the sperm packet inside.

The life cycle of solifuges has been poorly documented, and it is unknown how many stadia most species go through prior to maturation. Newly hatched solifuges are translucent white, embryonic, and remain clustered together moving very little. Activity increases by the second instar when the babies begin to hunt and feed.

Publications

Hatchlings (copyright: Paula Cushing)