A-Z Archive: U
I immediately knew what my entry would be:
We have lots of those around the farm
But I don’t mean that in a horrid way
just that sometime even their mothers struggle!
Oh my goodness
I struggled to choose 1!
But Solli wins
10 appendages down!
This is a Solifugid
These live in our TV Room. One minute we’re absorbed in a program, the next all hell breaks loose. Solli has just zoomed over a foot. Not to be out-done, I shriek hysterically. No not in welcome but pure, unadulterated terror!
Solli is a freak of nature! He comes out only at night, races around the room like the totally insane/possessed VW Beetle of movie-fame, scurrying over feet and any other object on the floor, and disappears just as fast! My poor heart!
Solifugids are curious little creatures which belong to the class Arachnida, which has various common names most of which suggest that they are spiders, which they are not. They have been referred to as red romans, sunspiders and beard cutters. The only similarity they share with spiders is the fact that they have eight legs, although with their two “feelers” it looks as though they have 10 legs. Solifugids have no venom glands and are not a threat to people although they are very aggressive and fast moving and can inflict a painful bite.
There 900 known species of solifugids world-wide, of which Southern Africa is richly endowed with 6 families and a total of 240 species. They are more abundant in drier regions and range in size from 25mm to 75mm in length.
Although they may look similar to a large spider, they are different in many respects. Solifugids do not have venom or silk glands. They appear to have ten legs, but upon closer inspection the first pair of legs are not legs at all but pedipalps. The pedipalps have a sensory function, aid in feeding and have suckers at their tips to enable them to climb smooth surfaces such as glass. Their head has a very characteristic shape with powerful jaws or chelicerae with which they seize and chew their prey. The feet are characterized by stiff hairs or spines which help them run rapidly over soft sand. The whole animal is covered by long sensory hairs or setae which glisten in the sun.
According to Cloudesley-Thompson these animals are voracious, and they eat mice, lizards, scorpions – in fact anything, even small birds! The prey is located by vibration on the tactile organs and captured by ambush or stalking. They are NOT venomous. After subduing a prey item, some solifugids bite off the prey’s legs, then proceed to eat it head first. They have an incredibly high metabolism and never seem to stand still for a moment.
Solifugids exhibit interesting behaviour patterns. They are called hair cutters because it is said that if a solifugid gets tangled in hair it will cut it’s way free. Although this has never been substantiated, they do make nests out of animal hair and there have been reports of people and pets loosing small patches of hair due to these animals.
When active during the day they avoid the hot patches of ground and run from shadow to shadow even if the shadow is made by a human. When the human moves, the solifugid moves into the shadow. This gives the impression that the animal is chasing the human; thus solifugids are commonly called hunting spiders.
Although these harmless creatures may seem fierce and intimidating they perform some good to mankind by keeping scorpion, spider and insect populations in check.
Ha! Harmless my foot - ooops! X@
- A-Z Archive: U! Challenge ~ Umbrella (albadrln.wordpress.com)