Solifugidae

U is for UuuuuuuGLY

We have lots of those around the farm
But I don’t mean that in a horrid way
just that sometimes even their mothers struggle!

Oh my goodness
I struggled to choose 1!

But Soli 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. Soli has just zoomed over a foot. Not to be out-done, I shriek hysterically. No not in welcome but pure, unadulterated terror!
Soli 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@

These are some more photos of our resident soli’s,
including one on my son’s hand to give you an idea of how large they are!
He’s absolutely insane!!!!

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36 thoughts on “Solifugidae

  1. Poor little mice! I don’t really mind mice if they stay out of the walls. Hee Hee
    This Sollie character would just have to go! No way I could live with the mere thought of that creature appearing out of nowhere. Now, Bush Babies, I could love them. Great post and great choice for “U”. 🙂 Thanks for telling us something we didn’t know.

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  2. It is creepy looking. I would be afraid to go to sleep too worried about losing my hair. LOL!
    Your Solli is an interesting critter, thanks for sharing. It is a newbie for me.

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  3. I cannot imagine sitting in the living room minding my own business and having THAT appear and run around!! My whole family would DIE on the spot – LOL! Actually, now that I am thinking about it, it would be sort of funny…

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    • Dear Libby, sitting engrossed in what’s on the screen or the conversation around about, Solli suddenly comes scurrying along “brrrRRRRRrrrr”! No detour, no hesitation. Just UP and over and on his way! You should hear the pandemonium! As for the acrobatics! Legs, feet, hands all lifting, grabbing, kicking, scrabbling. Then they look at one another and laugh. And snort and guffaw and they drag me from the top of the couch backrest and shush my shrieks.
      Then I refuse to. Sit with my feet on the floor. Till next time!

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  4. Charlene..This is interesting..I am getting over my fear of anything spiderish..but this may set me back…but ti does eat some other things that may be more of a problem..I have added both of your posts to this week’s Nature Notes….Michelle

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  5. I would not like to have him scamper across my living room floor either! But I would not harm him – as he is preferable to the scorpions, etc that he feeds on.

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  6. Oh my Goodness. My granddaughters would flee in terror also. Ugly is a good word and good choice for challenge. I have been trying to decide a choice for challenge and now you have me looking in a new direction.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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    • Lol Francine, I’m kinda getting blase about them now. I had one chasing a cricket round and round my bedside table. I chucked the cricket out of the window so I could get some sleep. I’m not quite up to picking Solli up yet!
      Glad I sent you in a new direction!

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  7. I need one of these in my flat in Oman since one of my neighbors in my building just found a scorpion running about!! I’ve never heard of this critter before. Thanks for sharing!!

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  8. Growing up in West Nicholson, these where a pest in the house, waking at night with these running across you was worse than having nightmares. My Dad found a good solution and raised more than a hand full of “Nagapies” (bush babies) these loved the hunting spiders, or as we knew them rain spiders, it was their favorite food, and as they were both active at night, a wonderful method of controlling the populations.

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  9. thank you for this great story! “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…” I’m glad that we only have some mice – brought into the house by our cat as a gift for us…

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