They’ve been around since the Devonian, 380 million years ago. This one was on the kitchen table, threatening my finger. It scuttled backward as it waved pincers at the looming digit. A dozen of these creatures could stand on a single cherry pit, so the display was heavy on charm and light on fearsomeness.

2013-06-13 pseudoscorpion 0012013-06-13 pseudoscorpion 005Although pseudoscorpions are quite abundant, we seldom see them. They hide in and under vegetation, inside empty snail shells, under rocks. Our eyes are rarely tuned to their scale.

Many pseudoscorpion species have the unusual habit of “riding” larger flying insects to hitch rides to new habitats. Some of these beasts of burden include the cerambycid beetles that I watched several weeks ago on the fallen ash. Next time, I’ll pay closer attention to the beetles’ bits and bridles.

Riders are ridden: some nematodes move about by clinging to pseudoscorpions.

So nat’ralists observe, a flea

Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;

And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.

And so proceeds Ad infinitum.

— Jonathan Swift

5 thoughts on “Pseudoscorpion

  1. Todd Crabtree

    And to describe the air turbulence generated by a pseudoscorpion encumbered cerambycid beetle…
    “Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity,
    and little whirls have lesser whirls and so on to viscosity.”
    -Lewis Fry Richardson
    Often quoted in the context of Fractal Geometry.

  2. Karen Pick

    Pseudoscorpion “riders in the sky” brought to mind this, from Hugh Raffles’s great “Insectopedia”: “[Researchers]estimated that at any given time on any given day throughout the year, the air column rising from 50 to 14,000 feet above one square mile of Louisiana countryside contained an average of 25 million insects and perhaps as many as 36 million.” Of course, the researchers in question were running their studies in 1926! Even so, according to them, the sky above Louisiana was “…‛a vault of insect-laden air” from which fell ‛a continuous rain’”. Bits and bridles galore!

  3. mowque

    Not poetry but a quote- “I do not pretend to understand the universe. It’s a great deal bigger than I am.” I think it applies to the small scale as well!


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