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Pseudoscorpions

31 May
Pseudoscorpion.

Pseudoscorpion.

Here’s a tiny little predator I picked out of a leaf litter sample.  Pseudoscorpions are another cool bug that I had no idea existed until I started studying entomology.  These charming little arachnids are named for their resemblance to tiny, stingless scorpions.  At only a few millimeters in size, they prey on other small organisms such as insect larvae, mites, ants, and lice.  Although fairly common and widespread, they often go unnoticed.  (When found they are sometimes mistaken for ticks or small spiders.)

A tiny pseudoscorpion perched on a finger.

A tiny pseudoscorpion checks its claws.

Like scorpions, the front ‘claws’ of the pseudoscorpion are derived from the pedipalps (a type of mouthpart). Although they lack a stinger, most pseudoscorpions have a venom gland and duct in their pincers instead, which they use to immobilize their prey.  (Their claws are too small to enable them to sting humans.)  They then digest their prey externally by pouring digestive fluids over their captive in a method similar to spiders.  Like spiders, pseudoscorpions have spinnerets and can spin silk to construct shelters.

Pseudoscorpion perched on a finger.

Pseudoscorpion perched on a finger.

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