Many people wonder if any scorpion species live in Iowa.
I know when I think about scorpions, dry and arid habitats typically come to mind. And nobody I know would use the term “dry and arid” to describe Iowa, so it seems unlikely there are any scorpions crawling around.
But surprisingly, there is a creature that lives in Iowa that is ALMOST a scorpion.
Let me introduce you to the Pseudoscorpion.
Have you ever seen a bug that looked like a tiny scorpion but didn’t have a tail?
If so, then you were probably looking at a Pseudoscorpion!
These tiny arachnids are not considered true scorpions, although they are closely related. They lack a tail with a venom-filled stinger and are incredibly small, like tinier than a grain of rice.
Even their name suggests they are not a true scorpion. “Pseudo” typically means something that is false or a sham.
But luckily, since there is no stinger, this arachnid is completely harmless to humans in Iowa!
- Tiny and normally reddish-brown, but can vary in color depending on the specific species.
- A segmented body shaped like a teardrop.
- Eight legs and large pincers when compared in proportion to their body.
- Also known as False Scorpion or Book Scorpion.
The Pseudoscorpion is a harmless predator in Iowa that will help keep your home free of small unwanted creatures. Pseudoscorpions seem to have adapted quite well to living with humans because they are often found in the dark spots in your closet eating unwanted moth larva, ants, mites, booklice, and small flies.
Pseudoscorpions have venom in their pincers that they use to kill their prey. Luckily, they cannot harm a human, so there is no need to be afraid of this 1/8 inch-sized (3mm) species. Just look at how small they are!
This arachnid is sort of like a spider too because it can make silk! However, it doesn’t make a web to catch prey. Instead, they use the silk to create a cocoon to use as shelter from the cold winter.
Pseudoscorpions are widespread across Iowa!
Pseudoscorpion Range Map
These scorpion look-a-likes are common, but they are small and often overlooked. Interestingly, some species are known to hitch a ride on a flying insect to move to a different location. Pretty clever for how tiny they are!
Pseudoscorpions use hairs on their pedipalps (front legs with pincers) to help them find prey because they have terrible vision. Check out this video of how they hunt!
There are dozens of individual Pseudoscorpion species in Iowa.
They are all unique and hunt their prey in different ways; many of them will aggressively stalk, but others hide and ambush their prey.
For example, if an insect brushes up against the hairs, it triggers them to attack. Their pincers have poison glands, so when they clamp down, the prey is instantly paralyzed. The scorpion injects saliva into the prey and feeds on the liquefied contents, similar to how a spider eats.
But luckily, the poison glands are not harmful to pets or humans.
Before you go, check out this informational video on the Pseudoscorpion!
Have you seen a Pseudoscorpion before in Iowa?
Leave a comment below!