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.
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
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
(Kraepelin) (Solifugae, Solpugidae) compared with that of nocturnal species.
Journal of Arachnology, 14: 363-383.
caspius subfuscus, immature, with prey (unidentified insect), Malaisary
Mt. foothills, Almaty area, Kazakhstan. (Photo by Alexander V. Gromov)