With lobster-like pincers, menacing tails and venomous bites, scorpions are fearsome creatures. They’re the prototype for a host of bugs that use pincers to grab prey and brandish tails as a battle cry. Their imitators are found in most climates and places, including your home.
So, save yourself a fright by getting to know these seven scorpion look-alikes.
All about Scorpions
Before we can understand what a scorpion isn’t, we need to know what a scorpion is. Measuring anywhere between ½ to 7 ¼ inches including the tail, there are over 2,500 species of this arachnid. What they all have in common are 8 legs (like all spiders), two of which are formidable pincers, and a pointed segmented tail.
The quintessential example is the emperor scorpion, the stuff of nightmares, and B movies.
Where scorpions live?
Scorpions are terrestrial and live everywhere except the arctic regions. But they prefer deserts and semi-arid climates. They adapt well to harsh conditions, surviving extremes in temperature by slowing their metabolism – a rare ability that enables them to survive without much food for long stretches.
What scorpions eat?
Scorpions eat insects and spiders, though the larger species can prey on small lizards and mice. Whatever they eat must be in a liquid form, so they excrete enzymes to digest their prey externally. They usually feed every few weeks but can survive up to twelve months without food, thanks to their slow metabolism.
How scorpions get their food?
Some scorpions ambush their prey or even set traps. They use their pincers to grab prey and either crush it if it’s small enough or inject it with paralyzing neurotoxins if it’s large. They can also use their pincers and venom against natural enemies such as birds and tarantulas.
How long do scorpions live?
Their average lifespan is 2- 6 years. But in the wild, they can live for 25 years. Once again, their ability to slow their metabolism is a lifesaver.
When scorpions sleep?
Scorpions are usually active at night when the temperature is cooler. During the day, they hide in burrows or under rocks. Like many desert creatures, their body color allows them to rest in plain sight.
Types of scorpion homes
They don’t nest and aren’t a social species like ants or bees. For scorpions, it’s a fight to the death for survival and they will cannibalize each other. Individuals prefer to dig burrows to a depth where temperature and moisture are comfortable.
Having a roommate is out of the question.
Scorpions, nomads or not
They’re territorial and most live in the undisturbed wilderness – where their neighborhood is not likely to be desirable real estate. Some species are seen around cities and will jealously guard their personal space. Like Greta Garbo, they want to be alone.
Interesting facts & tidbits about scorpions
Adult scorpions glow in the dark thanks to fluorescent chemicals in their exoskeleton. As if they aren’t scary enough!
1. All about Pseudoscorpions
The name says it all: it’s a fake scorpion. There are 3,000 species of Pseudoscorpion, varying in color and characteristics, depending on their environment. They can be really hard to identify, especially since they are much smaller than scorpions (2-8 mm).
They also resemble tiny spiders or ticks but with shorter legs and segmented pincers like a scorpion but without a tail – a mistake I once made when I pulled one out of my dog’s ear, thinking it was a tick. When my vet examined the ‘tick’ which I had saved, he enlightened me about these scorpion imposters after examining the dead creature under a microscope. It didn’t matter to my pet one way or the other.
Where pseudoscorpions live?
Like real scorpions, they can be found in most places, more commonly in tropical and subtropical climates.
What pseudoscorpions eat?
On the menu are larvae, dust mites (they particularly love book mites), ants, and other common household pests. Fortunately, its venomous sting isn’t harmful to humans, though my dog wouldn’t agree.
How pseudoscorpions get food?
Also, like the scorpion, they pre-digest their prey with excreted enzymes and consume the liquefied remains.
How long do pseudoscorpions live?
Pseudoscorpions live up to three years, which is unusually long for such a small critter.
When pseudoscorpions sleep?
Unlike scorpions, who are active at night when it’s cool, they like it hot. When it’s cold outside, they hunker down in silken cocoons until spring arrives.
Types of pseudoscorpion homes
Though found under rocks, leaves, in soil, or tree hollows, they prefer the indoors where it’s warmer. They’ll hitch a ride inside on larger insects or firewood.
Pseudoscorpions, nomadic or not
They’re territorial when it comes to mating, but of course, they like to ride piggyback and feed on mites under the wings of larger insects. So how anti-social can they be?
Interesting facts & tidbits about pseudoscorpions
Known as land crabs, they can move sideways – not an easy task if you have a wide body and short legs.
2. All about Whip Scorpions
Whip scorpions are known for their black color, whip-like tail, and menacing pincers. At almost 3.5 inches, they’re hard to miss, and at first glance, they resemble the fearsome Emperor scorpion.
Where whip scorpions live?
Africa is their favorite continent or anywhere the climate is tropical or subtropical.
What whip scorpions eat?
They enjoy other insects, terrestrial crustaceans (think of crabs or shrimp that live on land), and even worms.
How whip scorpions get food?
They like take-out, preferring to sting their prey and carry it back to their burrows, using their pincers to grab and hold their prey. Similar to other scorpions and non-scorpions, they purée their food before ingesting it.
How long do whip scorpions live?
Some species can live up to seven years. They grow slowly and molt every three years. Because of their size, a lot of mammals find them to be a reasonable meal, or they might overrun the planet.
When whip scorpions sleep?
Like their namesake, whip scorpions, are active at night when they hunt, but can be seen out and about during the day.
Types of whip scorpion homes
They like to live under rocks, logs, or in burrows like most creepy crawlers.
Whip scorpions, nomads or not
The Giant Tailless Whipscorpion (which seems like an oxymoron) is vulnerable after molting and until its exoskeleton hardens. They’re usually communal but can be cannibalistic when they’re newly molted. They live in groups of one male to two or three females – a great ratio if you are the male.
Interesting facts & tidbits about whip scorpions
They change color while molting, to blue, green, or even white. But they’re still not a pretty sight.
3. All about Water Scorpions
Each species is unique with varying sizes (1-2 inches) and shapes and typically dark brown or black. Like a true scorpion, they have pincer-like front legs and a long appendage, similar to a tail.
Where water scorpions live?
They’re found in freshwater habitats the world over (except in Arctic climes) but are elusive and hard to find.
What water scorpions eat?
Known as voracious or ambush predators, they are not picky eaters and will prey on whatever is available, such as other insects, tadpoles, small crustaceans, and fish.
How water scorpions get food?
When they sense a meal, they’ll attack and grasp the prey using their claw-like front legs. Then they inject their meal with digestive enzymes and, like a vampire, suck up the resulting liquid.
How long do water scorpions live?
Their lifespan is an average of 2 to 2.5 years, proving once again that only good bugs die young.
When water scorpions sleep ?
Like any successful vampire, they sleep until sunset before surfacing from their watery bed and ambushing their unsuspecting prey.
Types of water scorpion homes
They’re found in freshwater habitats with lots of mud, vegetation, logs, and rocks where they hang out until sunset. In other words, their house is a mess.
Water scorpions, nomads or not
Part of a healthy ecosystem, they will live happily ever after in the same pond.
Interesting facts & tidbits about water scorpions
Even though they’re aquatic insects, they are poor swimmers and afraid of open water where there are no life rafts.
4. All about Devil’s Coach Horse Beetles
The Devil’s coach horse is a medium-sized beetle, with large jaws and a cocked tail that it holds up in a scorpion-like fashion. It’s all black (including the wings) and about 1.3 inches long. They don’t sting, but their bite is very painful.
Where Devil’s coach horse beetles live?
Common in most of Europe and North Africa, they hitched a ride to America with early explorers. Exotic as these undocumented immigrants are, they established a comfortable home in the western and southwestern areas of the U.S. and have yet to be deported.
What Devil’s coach horse beetles eat?
These beetles are bottom feeders, preferring low altitudes and moist conditions. They favor a diet of snails and slugs but will settle for other invertebrates such as worms. Genteel diners, they cut their prey into small pieces for easier chewing using their strong jaws.
How Devil’s coach horse beetles get food?
A ferocious and fast predator, this beetle hunts after dark. In scorpion-like fashion, it rears up like a bucking bronco and attacks its prey, crushing the animal with its powerful jaws.
How long do Devil’s coach horse beetles live?
Thankfully, these beetles do not live long, though a year is too long if you are in their sights.
When Devil’s coach horse beetles sleep?
Like most loathsome creatures, they only come out at night to stalk their prey.
Types of Devil’s coach horse beetle homes
It’s a garden-variety beetle, which can be found under stones and compost heaps. But it will settle for forests, farmland, or grassland (anywhere where food and shelter are convenient).
Devil’s coach horse beetles, nomads or not
These beetles are constantly on the move. As a result of their wandering ways, they can end up in your home – unwelcome houseguests to say the least.
Interesting facts & tidbits about Devil’s coach horse beetles
As their name implies, they have been associated with evil forces. A superstition arose in the Middles Ages that this beetle could curse someone by pointing its tail at them.
5. All about Camel Spiders
Camel spiders are neither spiders nor scorpions though they have characteristics of both. With eight legs, it can move fast like a spider, and with jaws that are almost one-third of its body, it can intimidate like a scorpion. To make matters worse, it has a hairy face, weighs about 2 oz, and is 3-6 inches long.
Where camel spiders live?
All 1,100 species live in deserts around the world since they favor dry climates and scrublands. Australia and Antarctica are the only continents where they are not found. Why Australia got so lucky is an interesting question, since it’s mostly desert.
What camel spiders eat?
They eat what you might expect a desert-dweller to eat: termites, beetles, spiders, and even scorpions. They are particularly fond of ants, but they’ll eat whatever is around. You can’t be fussy if you live in the desert and have a fast metabolism.
So, they need to eat a lot and often, not only for nutrition but for the bodily fluids of their prey.
How camel spiders get food?
With distinctively large eyes, they can see light and shape, an advantage that helps them find and capture their prey. Tireless in their quest for food, they’ll run until they find a meal. Like we’ve seen before, they cut their food apart into small manageable bits which they cover with a secret sauce of digestive enzymes.
How long do camel spiders live?
A fast and loose lifestyle causes them to die young. They live for no more than a year.
When do camel spiders sleep?
Shunning the intense desert sun, they burrow during the day and only come out at night.
Types of camel spider homes
To keep cool after a night of hunting and feasting, they’ll find a nice rocky crevice or shady log.
Camel spiders, nomads or not
They stick to the desert or scrubland where they’re constantly on the move in search of the next meal. Except for mating, they live a short, lonely life, and don’t have the time or energy for permanent relationships.
Interesting facts & tidbits about camel spiders
There is a myth that this bug eats the insides of a camel’s stomach. Like many vicious rumors, it’s not true, but the name has stuck.
6. All about Scorpionflies
The scorpionfly, as the name implies, has a curved tail that doesn’t sting. It has a black and yellow body with a reddish head and dark patches on its wings. The claspers at the end of its tail are used for mating.
How romantic is that?
Where scorpionflies live?
This fly can adapt wherever there is a healthy ecosystem. Wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, towns, and gardens are prime real estate.
What scorpionflies eat?
Not much is known about their food preferences, though they’ve been seen eating insects, fruit, and nectar. They’ve also been caught eating dead insects and animals, and decaying vegetation – which any self-respecting fly would eat. Since they eat dead things, food insecurity is not an issue.
How scorpionflies get food?
This fly is an elusive scavenger who has a projecting beak with mouthparts at the tip, not unlike the monster in Alien.
How long do scorpionflies live?
There isn’t any recorded information about the lifespan of this elusive fly, so let’s assume it’s similar to other scavenger flies: about six weeks.
When scorpionflies sleep?
They are usually active during the day though they run the risk of being seen. When they need some downtime, they rest by hanging from leaves.
Types of scorpionfly homes
They like humid weather and wherever they can find damp leaf litter such as woodlands or a backyard that hasn’t been raked.
Scorpionflies, nomads or not
As mentioned, they’re elusive and anti-social. So, they prefer a solitary existence except when mating. If they do live for six weeks or so, it’s not likely that they’d want to relocate and leave their comfort zone.
Interesting facts & tidbits about scorpionflies
Recent studies have found that some insects, like scorpionflies, play a role in forensic entomology by helping to determine how long a body has been dead – not a nice way to make a living.
7. About Earwigs
These insects have been compared to scorpions because of the nasty-looking pincers at the end of their abdomens. The pincers aren’t used as venomous stingers but for grabbing prey. They range in size from ¼ to 1 inch long and vary in color from pale to dark brown.
Where earwigs live?
These bugs are common throughout Eurasia and came to America in 1907, where they settled in the south and western regions of the U.S. They prefer the outdoors, so they like the climate to be warm and damp.
What earwigs eat?
Like a lot of insects, they’re scavengers who rummage through decaying vegetation, mulch, and wet leaves looking for something edible. The more finicky eaters prefer seedlings and have damaged crops and garden plants to satisfy their food cravings. They can and do eat smaller insects using their pincers to catch the unfortunate bugs.
How earwigs get food?
Earwigs use their pincers on both offense and defense. In other words, to catch prey and ward off enemies.
How long do earwigs live?
Like so many animals, spring is the mating season for earwigs, whose average lifespan is about a year.
When earwigs sleep?
During the day, they don’t want to be disturbed after a night of hunting and scavenging. So, they hunker down in cool, moist crevices where they’re not likely to be found.
Types of earwig homes
As mentioned before, they like the outdoors where there is plenty of grassy debris, mulch, and warm, moist crevices in which to hide. Occasionally, they’ll get into people-places through exterior cracks and small openings where they are not welcome house guests.
Earwigs, nomads or not
These are also anti-social loners who do not belong to any colonies. So, we humans can rest assured that earwig infestations are a rare occurrence.
Interesting facts & tidbits about earwigs
Earwigs got their name and bad reputation from an old European myth that alleged they crawled into people’s ears, from where they tunneled into the brains of their sleeping victims. This also sounds like material for an Edgar Allan Poe story.