September 13, 2016
Pseudoscorpions (meaning "false scorpion") resemble miniature scorpions without a long stinging "tail." Photo credit here. The Coolest Hitchhikers in the Galaxy Imagine being only a few millimeters in length with a big round body, 8 legs, and 2 large pincher-like “claws.” With no wings to transport them, it’s a great big world to navigate for the tiny predatory pseudoscorpion, a relative of spiders, scorpions and their kin. Hunting food and finding mates may seem like an impossible challenge for other tiny organisms, but pseudoscorpions DON’T PANIC, for evolution has made them the coolest little hitchhikers in the galaxy!
A pseudoscorpion clings to the leg of a root-maggot fly with its pedipalps (commonly called "pinchers"). Photo credit: Kelsey Bailey Don't Panic, They are Not Parasites! Spotted in Los Feliz clinging to the back leg of a root-maggot fly, this small pseudoscorpion is one of 3,000+ species known worldwide, found mostly living in tiny crevices, damp soil, and on the bodies of other animals such as birds, mammals, insects and other arachnids. These little creatures are not parasites, as they do not harm their hosts. Their behavior is referred to as "phoresy," where one animal is simply traveling on the other as if it's a living bus or personal jet. Some species will hop off at the desired stop, but those that do spend more time on their hosts pay their keep by gobbling up other small organisms, such as mites, that live on the host’s body. Love Under a Beetle's Wings Cordylochernes scorpiodes is one species with a unique association to tropical harlequin beetles. The males wait patiently for females to show up so that they can court them under the dark safety of the giant beetle’s hardened wings. How romantic! Even though tropical pseudoscorpions are more well known, L.A. can boast its own impressive little hitchhiking arachnids! References: http://www.americanarachnology.org/joa_free/joa_v26_n3/joa_v26_p452.pdf