“How did you even notice that?”

Recently I  had two people ask me that same question.  I was telling them about an awesome pseudoscorpion I found crawling around the Hoofstock Building at the zoo.

“It was huge,” I was telling them.  “Probably about the size of a sesame seed.”


Now something that’s only the size of a sesame seed may not sound that interesting

But what if I told you I saw an animal that has two large poisonous claws.  Pretty cool.  That animal also was able to spin silk like a spider.  Even cooler.  Boys will dance with the girls in order to woo them.  Wow!  They take care of their babies.  Very nice!  And they are so common you can find hundreds in a square yard of soil.  No, I’m not kidding you!  All these traits describe pseudoscorpions.

Pseudoscorpions are related to spiders, mites, and scorpions.  In fact, they get their name because they look like scorpions without the tail.  Where scorpions sting with their tails, many Pseudoscorpions have venom glands in their claws (but don’t worry, they are much too small to hurt people).  They use their claws to catch small insects and mites to eat.

Instead of building webs with their silk, pseudoscorpions spin cocoons to overwinter in.  Males will also spin a spermatophore that contains his sperm.  When a female approaches he will dance with her until she is over the spermatophore.  The fertilized female will use her silk to attach her eggs to her abdomen.  After the young hatch they will ride around with mom until they are ready to take off on their own.

The pseudoscorpion you are likely to encounter is the house pseudoscorpion, Chelifer cancroides (L.).  But don’t worry, they are harmless to people and don’t cause any destruction.  They may even be beneficial, eating pests like clothes moth larvae, carpet beetle larvae, and booklice.

There are lots of things in life that seem small and insignificant at first, but are very fascinating when you take the time to look at them a little closer.  Hopefully in the coming months I’ll tell you more about those small things.  Until then, look a little closer, you might be surprised at what you find.

About Dan Hemmann

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Keeper Dan has always shown an interest in the small things.  This fascination led to a career in Entomology, the study of insects.  He also likes small people, and thinks zoos are one of the best ways to get kids excited about our natural world.  

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