Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

How can you not love the pseudoscorpion?

Last summer, I saw a funny little beetle with clubbed antennae on the banister of our outdoor steps. I looked closer, and damned if it didn't look like a little scorpion (and I mean little) minus the stinger. It wasn't moving, so I plucked out one of my hairs and carefully waved it in front of the little creature -- was it alive? It attacked my hair, pinching with all its tiny might! I was in love.

After doing some research in a wonderful book by John Acorn called "Bugs of Washington and Oregon," I discovered that my fierce, diminutive beastie is called a pseudoscorpion. Here's a website that will give you an idea of the scale we're talking about here (and the ferocity):

http://biol.org/Pseudoscorpion.htm

I love the all-caps caption: "PSEUDOSCORPION IS ATTACKING THE RULER". Yikes!

They lack the stinger of scorpions, but their pincers (or "pedipalps" -- what a good word!) can deliver a little poison. It's enough to kill their miniscule prey, but not enough to harm a human. I think their pedipalps are cute.

Pseudoscorpions can make silk, which they use to make bag-like shelters. They spend the winter in their silk sleeping bags, or they make temporary bags to hide in while they're recovering from molting into a new skin. A male pseudoscorpion sometimes makes a special silk mat for presenting his sperm packet to the female (tah-dah!). She can look it over, then accept or reject it as she pleases.

Mommy pseudoscorpions are attachment parents. They carry their babies in a brood pouch (sling!) and secrete nutritious something-or-other (boobie juice!) for the babies to eat.

These little critters are even more crunchy-granola than that. When they want to go someplace far away do they take their gas-guzzling SUVs? NO! They take public transportation. (That is, they hitch a ride on a much bigger bug.) This is, I think, the pseudoscorpion's most whimsical habit, akin to Mary Poppins' opening her umbrella and floating away on the west wind. I know it's true, though, because I've seen it.

I was kicking a crane fly out of the house (that's "mosquito eater" to some of you -- you know, those bugs that look like humungous mosquitoes? They're not.) I hesitated before letting the crane fly out of the jar, and I noticed that its legs looked clumpy. Upon even closer inspection, I saw two pseudoscorpions holding on tight and hitching a ride! This was a mere week after finding the first one on the banister....

It's funny how once you know something exists, you can find it in the strangest places.

30 Comments:

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  • At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Gee, all I ever find in my house is dust mites, spiders, and pillbugs (but those are only in the basement).

     
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    Wow, what a find! And I have to say I love your commentary on it, too :)

     
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    In the picture where it attacks the ruler: pseudoscorpion is all like "I will not be measured!"

     
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