As their name suggests, Pseudoscorpions are soil animals masquerading as true scorpions. They are related to the true scorpions as both are arachnids and have 4 pairs of legs but the false or “pseudo” variety of scorpion is quite tiny – only a few millimeters long. These animals have their big pincers near their heads which makes them look impressive but their little round hind ends look sadly bare as they lack the dramatic tail and sting of the true scorpion. Unlike their big brothers, what venom pseudoscorpions have is in the pincers. They are quite harmless to humans.

Pseudoscorpions top and bottom view.
Note 4 pairs legs and large claws.

They are predators of other small soil animals such as springtails, silverfish, fly larvae and mites. They lie in wait in the litter or under a stone, waiting for prey to brush against the sensitive hairs on their claws. They quickly grasp the prey in their pincers and inject venom into it. Pseudoscorpions pump digestive enzymes into the dead animal and suck up the externally digested fluids.

Pseudoscorpion in wood persuing termite living there.

They are never as numerous as springtails and mites. They live in the litter layer and top soil layers in crevices and holes and under rocks and logs.

Pseudoscorpions indulge in phoresy where they hitch a ride on the bodies of larger insects such as flies, bees, bugs, grasshoppers and beetles. This is similar behaviour to that of their relatives, the predatory mites.

They occur all over the world but are not quite as ubiquitous as springtails and mites as they probably don’t live in Antarctic soil.