Short-tailed Whip Scorpions (Arachnida: Schizomida)

Short-Tailed Whip Scorpions (Arachnida: Schizomida)

Schizomida are commonly called short-tailed whip scorpions. There are over 200 species of schizomids in two families. These tiny arachnids – adults only between 5 mm – 1 cm – are found primarily in the tropics and subtropics but a few species have been reported from under ice and snow covered rocks. They are active, nocturnal predators that can move either forwards or backwards.

The dorsal surface of the prosoma is divided into series of platelets. Schizomids have at most one pair of eyes, although many species lack eyes. Their first legs are antenniform legs; held in front of the body and covered in sensory setae, these antenniform legs function like the antennae of insects. The small flagellum (tail-like projection) has a pair of glandular sacs on either side – perhaps containing acetic acid or acetone – that is likely used for defense.

Schizomids demonstrate elaborate courtship behaviors. The female holds the male flagellum and the male leads her to the site where the male has deposited his spermatophore. The female digs a burrow and constructs a nest with cemented soil particles creating a brood sac. She guards her eggs until they hatch and dies soon thereafter.


Photos by Marshal Hedin, Joe Warfel, Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira and David Hoyos Velásquez