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, this can not be done 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 the territories of 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.
Most salpugs have rather impressive shapes. Their sizes are 5–7 cm. A very insignificant part of the species has a body length of not more than 1–1.5 cm. The color predominates in brownish-yellow, sandy-yellow and whitish tones. Much less often you can find a mottled or dark look. Solpuga has a dissected cephalothorax. On the front section, protected by a large head shield, there are pedipalps, chelicerae and front legs. Large chelicerae have swollen main segments and powerful forward claws. They are able to open vertically, and strong teeth are located on the inner edges of the fingers. The structure of the pedipalps is similar to the legs, but devoid of claws. They are replaced by a tactile appendage. Pedipalps not only perform motor and tactile functions, but also with the help of strong bristles grab and hold prey. Also, pedipalps are used by males at the time of copulation.
The dissected segments of the second, third and fourth pairs of legs have individual tergites. The legs are different in structure. Front - short and thin, perform the function of touch. The remaining legs are equipped with claws and are organs of movement. The longest legs are the hind legs. They have from two to five pairs of peculiar triangular, lamellar organs - maleol. They are distinguished by numerous sensilla and sensitive cells, which, through the processes, are combined into a nerve. A characteristic feature of the head shield is a clearly visible ocular tubercle with two convex eyes. A distinctive feature is the underdevelopment of the side eyes. On the lower surface of the cephalothorax, the triangular coxae of the pedipalpus and walking legs are clearly visible.
The abdomen, consisting of ten dissected segments, is large and spindle-shaped. With the help of the pre-genital segment, the abdomen is articulated with the cephalothorax. A characteristic feature is a very powerful and well-developed tracheal system. Salpugs have a trunk and appendages covered with hairs and bristles. One part of the hairs and bristles is very soft, the other part is thickened or spiky. There are hairs and bristles sticking out singly or very long.
The genital opening of the salpug is a longitudinal gap in the first segment of the abdomen. It is covered by side wings. Most often, the mating period occurs in the dark. The male identifies and finds the female by smell. At the moment of mating, the female becomes absolutely motionless, and the male is active. Fertilization is spermatophore. The entire mating process takes several minutes: the male releases a sticky spermatophore containing spermine. Then, with the help of the chelicera, he is transferred from the soil surface to the female's genital opening.
A fertilized female gains mobility, aggression and gluttony. Immediately after feeding, the female pulls out a small depression expanding at the bottom.
The whole process of embryonic development occurs directly in the oviducts.
After a very short period of time, babies hatch from eggs laid in the hole. They cannot move and have a special coating of a transparent cuticle. Two weeks later, the first molt occurs and the young salpuga is covered with hairs and acquires motor activity. The female protects the young and feeds her for quite some time. The life expectancy and the total number of links in the Salpug still remain a mystery.
Solpugs populated the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, the Lower Volga region, including the Volgograd and Astrakhan regions, as well as Kalmykia. The habitat is the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia, the republics of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. They are common in Spain and Greece. Salpugs are absent only in Australia and Antarctica.
The activity of these animals increases in the dark. In daylight, salpugi take shelter under rocks, in minks of rodents or other animals. Sometimes they independently dig holes with chelicera, and throw away the excess earth with their feet. The same hole can be used for quite a long time.
A nightpipe of Solpug is attracted by a variety of light sources. The places of their clusters are illuminated rooms, residential buildings and places around lanterns. Most salpugi like radiation from ultraviolet lamps. However, there are species that enjoy sunlight. These include the Spanish sun spiders and the Central Asian Raga galeodes heliophilus.
The order is represented by 13 families. This is about a thousand species and almost 140 genera. Most of them have chosen the desert regions of the Earth, except Australia:
- 80 species - inhabitants of North and South America.
- 200 species - inhabitants of Africa, Europe and Asia.
- 40 species - inhabitants of North Africa, Greece and Asia.
- 16 species - inhabitants of South Africa, Vietnam and Indonesia.
- 200 species - inhabitants of Africa and Iraq.
The common saltpug, or Galeodes araneoides, is an inhabitant of the European part. Widely distributed in the Crimea, southeastern steppes and the Caucasus. Quite large, up to five centimeters in length, and a fast-running look. It has a pale yellow color.
The Trans-Caspian saltpug, or Galeodes caspius, is the most common species in Central Asia. Dimensions reach 6.5 centimeters. It is characterized by a brownish-red color and a grayish abdomen, as well as bearing dark stripes. The black-brown smoky saltpug, or Galeodes fumigatus, is an inhabitant of the sands of Turkmenistan. Body length - seven centimeters.
Benefit and harm
Solpugs not only move at high speed, but also know how to easily climb vertically located surfaces and jump perfectly at a fairly considerable distance. Large species are able to overcome a distance exceeding a meter in a jump. When confronted with the enemy, she assumes a very awesome posture: the front of the body is lifted, and the chelicera and open claws are directed forward. Some species at this moment are capable of making piercing sounds.
Despite the fact that there is no poison in the body of the salpuga, all naturally occurring species bite quite noticeably and painfully.
Small species of salpuga and young individuals are not able to bite through human skin. However, adults quite often bite through the skin of not only humans, but also animals.
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The consequences of a bite and therapeutic measures
Despite the high soreness of the bite, these arachnids do not have poisonous glands. Most often, collisions with them take place without any consequences. In rare cases, severe inflammation occurs. This is due to the presence on the chelicera of rotting remains of the previous victim. When bitten, these residues fall into the wound and cause various arachnoses.
You can relieve pain yourself, using analgesics, or you can contact a medical institution.
In any case, the wound needs to be treated with a disinfectant.
Next, you need to apply a bandage with a gel or ointment, which contains an antibiotic. Bandaging should be carried out daily until complete healing.