The pseudoscorpion is an arachnid in the same family as scorpions, but they are not true scorpions.
Pseudoscorpions are very tiny, only 2 to 8 millimeters, on average, in length. They resemble miniature crabs, with long front pincers, known as pedipalps. They have flat bodies that are pear-shaped, but no tail with a barbed stinger on it (like true scorpions). Since they lack the stinger and tail of a traditional scorpion, these tiny creatures are harmless to humans.
Their chief food is small arthropods, such as clothes moths, lice, mites, flies and ants. Pseudoscorpions are often found in homes, but people frequently mistake them for ticks or spiders. Pseudoscorpions are small and secretive, so most humans have never even seen them.
There is no recommended treatment for pseudoscorpions, as they are considered beneficial because of the pests they target (moths, lice, mites, flies and ants). Pseudoscorpions have even been witnessed “hitching a ride” on flies. They will use their front pincers to grab on to the legs of flies and the fly will carry them for short distances in flight.
There are more than 2,000 species of pseudoscorpions, and most of them live in the tropics. They can be found in ground cover, leaf litter, in rotten logs, under bark, in bogs, swamps, in rock outcrops, caves, and in homes. They are not known to be external parasites (ectoparasites) but they can be found in bird and rodent nests where they feed on arthropods in the nests.
Pseudoscorpions share similar mating rituals with other scorpions. The males perform an elaborate dance to attract the females. The female also doesn’t lay eggs. Instead she carries her eggs and when they hatch, the female pseudoscorpion will give birth to live scorpions. These young scorpions, or scorplings, will crawl up to the female’s back, like other scorpions do, and will travel until they are old enough to fend for themselves. It usually takes anywhere from 1 to 2 years to reach adulthood and have a lifespan of about 4 years. Adults overwinter in silken cocoons.
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