The Latin name for the representatives of the arachnid order "Solifugae" in the translation "running away from the sun." Solpuga, wind scorpion, bihorch, phalanx - different definitions of an arthropod creature, which only looks like a spider, but belongs to omnivorous animals. This is a real predator, meetings with which can result in painful bites.
There are a lot of fables about saltpugs. In South Africa they are called hairdressers because they believe that the underground nests of the inhabitants are lined with the hair of people and animals, which are trimmed by powerful chelicera (oral appendages).
Description and Features
Central Asian predators are found to be approximately 5-7 cm long. A large body is spindle-shaped. On the cephalothorax, protected by a chitin shield, large bulging eyes. On the sides of the eyes are underdeveloped, but react to light, the movement of objects.
10 limbs, the body is covered with hair. Anterior tentacles-pedipalps longer than paws, they are very sensitive to the environment, serve as the organ of touch. The spider instantly reacts to the approach, making it a great hunter.
The hind limbs are equipped with claws and suction cups, which allow climbing on vertical surfaces. The running speed is up to 14-16 km / h, for which the spider is nicknamed the scorpion of the wind.
Interesting that salpuga structure in general, it is very primitive, but the tracheal system in the body of the predator is one of the most advanced among arachnids. The body is yellow-brown in color, sometimes whitish, with a long hairline. individuals of a dark color or variegated coloring are rare.
Intimidating tentacles and quick movements create a frightening effect. Solpuga in the photo looks like a little shaggy monster. The hairs on the body vary. Some are soft and short, others are coarse, spiky. Individual hairs are very long.
The predator's main weapon is large chelicerae with ticks, resembling crab claws. From other spiders, a salpug is distinguished by its ability to bite a person’s nail, skin, and small bones. Chelicerae are equipped with cutting edges and teeth, the number of which differs in different species.
Lifestyle & Habitat
Salpuga Spider - A typical resident of the steppes, deserts of tropical, subtropical zones. Sometimes found in wooded areas. The main distribution area is South Africa, Pakistan, India, the North Caucasus, Crimea, and Central Asian territories. Residents of Spain and Greece know night predators. The common view is familiar to all residents of hot places and deserts.
Most nocturnal hunters hide during the day in the abandoned mink of rodents, among stones or in their underground nests, which they dig with the help of chelicera, throwing the soil off with their paws. Their light attracts a cluster of insects.
Therefore, they crawl into the glare of the fire, the rays of a flashlight, to the lighted windows. There are species that are active during the day. Such sun-loving representatives in Spain were called "sun spiders." In terrariums, salpugs like to bask in the light of ultraviolet lamps.
The activity of spiders is manifested not only in fast running, but also in dexterous vertical movement, jumping to a considerable distance - up to 1-1.2 m. When meeting with the enemy, the salpugs raise the front of the body, claws open and direct towards the enemy.
Sharp and piercing sounds give the spider determination in the attack, they frighten the enemy. The life of predators is subject to the seasons. With the advent of the first cold weather, they fall into hibernation until spring warm days.
During the hunt, the salpugas make characteristic sounds, like gnashing or piercing squeaks. This effect appears due to the friction of the chelicera to intimidate the enemy.
The behavior of animals is aggressive, they are neither afraid of humans, nor poisonous scorpions, they are even belligerent towards each other. The lightning movements of hunters are dangerous for the victims, but they themselves rarely become someone’s prey.
It is difficult to drive a spider out of the tent, you can sweep it out with a broom or crush it on a hard surface, it is impossible to do this in the sand. Bites should be washed with antiseptics. Salpugs are not poisonousbut they carry infections on themselves. In case of suppuration of the wound after the attack of a spider, antibiotics will be required.
Saltpug squad consists of 13 families. It has 140 genera, almost 1000 species. The army of predators of many thousands is spread over many continents except Australia and Antarctica:
- over 80 species - in America;
- about 200 species - in Africa, Eurasia;
- 40 species - in North Africa and Greece;
- 16 species - in the territory of South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam.
Among the most famous species:
- common salpuga (galeod). Large individuals, measuring up to 4.5-6 cm, yellowish-sand color. The color of the backs is darker, grayish-brown. The compressive strength of the chelicera is such that the salpuga maintains the weight of its own body. There are no poisonous glands. According to the distribution area, the common saltpug is called South Russian;
- Transpaspian salpuga. Large spiders 6-7 cm long, brownish-red color of the cephalothorax, with a striped gray abdomen. Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan - the main habitat regions;
- smoky salpuga. Giant spiders, over 7 cm long. Black-brown predators are found in the sands of Turkmenistan.
All spiders are not poisonous, however, a meeting with them does not promise pleasant moments even for local residents of regions where they are not rare inhabitants.
Gluttony of spiders is pathological in nature. These are real predators who do not know the feeling of satiety. Large insects, small animals become food. Wood lice, millipedes, spiders, termites, bugs, insects enter the diet.
Phalanx attacks all living things that move and correspond with its size until it falls from overeating. In California, spiders ravage the hives of bees, cope with lizards, small birds and small rodents. Dangerous scorpions and the salpugs themselves, capable of devouring their pair after intercourse, become victims.
The spider grabs prey with lightning speed. To devour the carcass is torn to pieces, chelicerae knead it. Then the food is moistened with digestive juice and absorbed by the salpuga.
After the meal, the abdomen grows significantly in size, the hunting excitement subsides for a short time. Fans of keeping spiders in terrariums should monitor the amount of feed, as the phalanx can die from gluttony.
Reproduction and longevity
With the onset of the mating season, the rapprochement of the pairs occurs according to the alluring smell of the female. But soon the salpuga, bearing offspring in the oviducts, becomes so aggressive that it can eat its partner. Enhanced nutrition promotes the development of cubs in the womb.
In a hidden mink, the cuticle, the eggs in which the babies are ripe, first occurs after embryonic development. The offspring are numerous: from 50 to 200 heirs.
In the cuticles, the cubs are motionless, without hairs and signs of articulation. After 2-3 weeks, the babies become like parents after the first molt, gain body hair and straighten all limbs.
The ability to move independently gradually develops into motor activity. Phalanx protects the young, delivers food until the offspring is stronger.
Information on the life expectancy of arthropod representatives is missing. The fashion for predators in terrariums has recently appeared. Perhaps a close observation of the phalanx will open new pages in the description of this sandy inhabitant of the tropics.
Interest in an unusual animal is manifested in the appearance of the heroes of computer games, frightening and alluring images. Versus Salpuga lives on the internet. But a real predatory spider can only be found in wildlife.