Feeding Behavior

From Dr. Robert A. Wharton and Kristie Reddick, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University:

Feeding behavior of solifuges has most often been recorded anecdotally (Punzo, 1998) with a few observations made during other work (Wharton 1981; Lawrence, 1949, 1963). Solifuges use their massive chelicerae to macerate their prey by feeding it through the ‘cheliceral mill,’ where the upper fondal teeth rub back and forth against each other, grinding the exoskeleton and extracting liquid (Punzo, 1998). The suctorial organs at the tips of the pedipalps are very important for prey capture and manipulation and often have intial contact with the prey (Cushing et al. 2005; Punzo, 1998). Wharton (1987) observed Metasolpuga picta females occasionally using their palps to bring food closer to the chelicerae.

Punzo (1994, 1998) provides the best assessment of long-standing observations on feeding behavior, primarily because of the quality of the experimental approach and the detailed focus on prey preparation. Prey preparation in solifuges has been recorded for Eremobates mormonus, Eremorhax magnus and Eremobates marathoni (Punzo, 1998). These species of solifuge have been shown to remove certain parts of the body with higher chitin content (head, antennae, wings) and an average of 5 to 9% of total feeding time is devoted to prey preparation.



From R. Ryan Jones, Denver Museum of Nature and Science:


Once prey has been captured, the solifuge grinds the prey item using back-and-forth alternating movements of the left and right chelicerae (Punzo 2012). Larger prey items are manipulated through the chelicera using the pedipalps and first pair of legs (Turner 1916; Muma 1966), to avoid or discard the more chitinous body parts (Punzo 1994, 1995, 2012). Solifuges have a rostrum, a beak-like structure containing the mouth and pharynx, and allows for ingestion of liquified tissue while acting as a filter to keep out larger, chitinous parts (Klann & Alberti 2010).

Literature Cited: