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Pseudoscorpion is a beneficial garden predator

Q: I occasionally see tiny insects in my bathroom that have a set of pincers on the front of their body. These “miniature crabs” usually make their appearance in summer.

I never see more than one or two at a time, so I doubt I need to be concerned, but I am curious and would like to know what they are.

• Frank from Rogers

A: These fascinating little critters are not insects but arachnids; think spiders, ticks, mites and, yes, scorpions. In fact, they are called pseudoscorpions.

They are harmless and cannot bite or sting and will not cause damage to your home or its contents. Actually, they are beneficial for the garden.

Pseudoscorpions are approximately 1/5 inch in length, longer when the pincers (pedipalps) are extended. They are brown or a reddish color. They do not have a tail as would be found on a scorpion. They can move quickly forward and backward and actually look like crabs when they walk.

There are about 200 species in North America and as many as 3,300 species worldwide. Their preferred habitat is the humidity of leaf litter, moss and under stones. They can also be found in bird nests and under the bark of trees. They can catch a ride into your home on larger insects, firewood, or even you or a pet.

They do not want to be in your bathroom so physical removal is the best option. Slide a piece of paper under them, carry and release them outside.

The pseudoscorpion is a beneficial predator and feeds on small insects and other arachnids.

A large number of pseudoscorpions in the home is unusual and can be indicative of a moisture problem. Dry out damp areas with a fan or dehumidifier and use the vent fan while bathing to control a noticeable population. Look for leak issues and get them repaired and sealed.

For more information and a picture go to: http://go.osu.edu/pseudoscorpions.

Today’s answer is by Merabeth Steffen, OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer. To get help like this in our clinic, 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 10am-noon on Thursdays or visit go.osu.edu/virtualclinic.

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