At this rate it could become a habit.
Nothing venomous this time. I’ve mentioned solifuges before — even built a Magic deck* around them — and today we got a visit from what appears to have become my totem arthropod,** locally known as a sun spider. Apparently, alas, this was a victim of a recent round of pest control.
It was fairly well curled up as you see it shown in the first image, and barely moving at all. I kept it contained for a while but it was willing to pose (albeit in pretty poor-looking shape) for the following image.
(Right-click to open the image in a new window; it’s actually about 75% larger than it appears here.)
Those mouthparts are fearsome-looking, to be sure, but this bug is all bite and no bark. Solifuges are very old creatures — a couple hundred million years*** — but they don’t make silk or envenomate. They’re active predators, chasing down creatures such as crickets, and they can run about as fast as a cockroach.
As should be obvious from the setae, these are pretty sensitive and environmentally-reactive creatures; and the placement and size of the eyes on the cephalothorax should tell you this animal is pretty good at seeing its prey. Beyond that, there doesn’t seem to be much actually known about solifuges. Fairly basic things such as their reproductive cycle, for instance, remain a mystery.
I decided after a while to take it outside and let it die in peace. As I was heading toward a nicely-remote and scrubby spot, though — since these arthropods do not have venom, there was no significant danger to humans or animals — I noticed it start to perk up in the little jar that contained it. By the time I was close to a patch of shrubbery it was getting decidedly more active, and when I tipped it into the plant’s thatch it seemed to be just about fully recovered.
That’s when I remembered that pest-control chemicals generally don’t have much of an effect on arachnids.
I guess this little guy happened to hit a particularly damp or fresh patch of insecticide, one that left it stunned for a while … until the sun after which it’s named resurrected it.
All I can say in retrospect is that it’s good it didn’t decide to play Lazarus when it was on my desk and I was busy lensing it. This story might have had a much less happy ending for at least one of us.
* Which played, as expected, poorly. I’ve altered it a little and will post on the updates and changes later.
** Oh. Goody.
*** Yes, solifuges were once scaring the hell out of dinosaurs.
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