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.

Solifuge with pen for scale

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.

The solifuge in all its ciliated glory

(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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