Solifugae

These arachnids are known as sun-spiders and wind-scorpions, and they are among the most formidable of the terrestrial arthropods. They are feared in many regions, but they are not poisonous. The large cephalothorax is divided into six segments, and the first three segments resemble a head. The segmented abdomen is constricted at the base, which gives the appearance of three distinct body regions, and the basis for the reference to them as spiders. The first pair ofappendages, the chelicerae, are jaw-like, and the second pair, the pedipalps, are long and leg-like. The first pair of legs are primarily tactile, and the last three pairs are ambulatory. The body is densely covered with fine setae. These arthropods are generally active at night, and they move very quickly as predators of other arthropods, small lizards, and small rodents. Prey are crushed by the large jaws and reduced to pulp, and pressed against the mouth opening where food is absorbed in a semiliquid condition.

Solifugae occur in tropical and subtropical regions, and sometimes in hot, dry, desert areas. In Europe six species occur in southeast Spain, Greece, the Balkans, and in the vicinity of the Black Sea. Gluvia dorsalis occurs in urban habitats in Spain, and Mummucia varigata and Pseudocleobis moricans are common during the day on the streets of Santiago, Chile. In the USA, there are about 10 described species, and these occur in western states. Several species, such as Solpuga sericea and S. lineata, burrow into the ground to feed on termites. A California species of Eremobates kills bees, and a small nocturnal species, E. pal-lipes, is known to prey on bed bugs. In eastern USA the only solfugid is Ammotrechella stimpsoni, which occurs in southern

Florida and theWestlndies. Solifugaeareparticularlyabundant in Africa, but none occurs in Madagascar, and they are absent from Australia and New Zealand. In Egypt and surrounding regions, Galeodes arabs is common, and it is said to screech when confronting danger. Gylippus rickmersi inhabits the Pamir plateau, north of the Hindu Kush mountains in central Asia.

After mating and fertilization, the female increases food consumption for the next 2-3 weeks. Females lay their eggs atnight in a deep burrow in the soil. The eggs are round and white or with dark markings, and adhere to one another in compact groups. Females deposit 1-5 batches of eggs; hatching occurs within a few days or in 3-4 weeks. In Galeodes, the young larvae emerge 1-2 days after they are laid. At first, they are teneral, white, and unable to move. During their first 2-3 weeks and before the first molt, the young remain with the female. Following this molt, the young are more active and the integument hardens.

Eremobates pallipes Adults are 24-26 mm long, pale brown, and have a slightly darker brown dorsal band. The body is moderately setose. The cephalothorax is dark brown, and joints of the pedipalps and legs have dark brown marks. This common species occurs in western USA, including California, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Kansas.

Other Eremobates Common species in this genus include E. californica,which is about 25 mm long and yellowish brown. It occurs in southern California, Arizona, and northern Mexico. E. durangonus is about 28 mm long and the cephalothorax is light brown. E. formidabilis is about 27 mm long and reddish brown, and it has a broad, dark, dorsal longitudinal band on the abdomen. This species occurs in California and Arizona. E. magna has the tips of the pedipalps black, and it occurs in California, Arizona, and Texas. It has been reported feeding on ants in Texas.

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