Slovak Arachnological Society

Schizomida (shorttailed whipscorpions)


Araneae  •  Opiliones  •  Pseudoscorpiones  •  Palpigradi  •  Schizomida  •  Acari

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Schizomida are small creatures – generally less than 5 mm – with long, tactile anterior legs, and the ability to move very rapidly over short distances. They generally occur in rainforest leaf litter although many species have been described from caves. Others have been accidentally transported with humans, appearing in hot-houses and other environments with constant high humidity and temperature (Harvey 2002).

Hubbardia pentapeltis female Hubbardia pentapeltis male

Hubbardia pentapeltis (♀), creative commons Marshal Hedin via flickr

Hubbardia pentapeltis (♂), creative commons Marshal Hedin via flickr

Schizomids have robust pedipalps, a pair of two-segmented chelicerae, four pairs of legs, of which the first pair are elongated and whip-like, and an elongate abdomen with a short terminal flagellum. Schizomids are probably predators. Field observations in caves suggest that schizomids sometimes occur in large populations, particularly close to bat guano or seed deposits transported by bats. These organic piles harbor several scavenger invertebrates, like springtails (Collembola), small flies (Diptera) and booklice (Psocoptera); which could serve as prey for schizomids (Santos et al. 2013).

Schizomids are a reasonably uniform group in which, until recently, only a handful of genera and species were known. Reddell & Cokendolpher (1995) revised the world fauna, described a further 15 genera and removed several older names from synonymy. To date there are 50 genera of schizomids placed in two families, Protoschizomidae and Hubbardiidae (Harvey 2007, de Armas 2010). Thirty-nine of these genera have been described since 1990 and many more are to be expected once the Asian and African faunas, which have not yet been studied in detail, are considered. So far, 260 species have been described, while Harvey (2002) expects that over 500 species will eventually be recognized world-wide. In Slovakia was found only one species (Christophoryová et al. 2013).

Stenochrus portoricensis (♀) from Botanical garden in Bratislava, © Ľubomír Kováč

arachnida did you know...

Shorttailed whipscorpions in greenhouses in Bratislava apparently came from the shipment of imported plants. In the last decades no plant import with soil was realized – probably this population lives there a relatively long time. Moreover, staff of the Botanical garden performed monthly the periodical treatment by insecticides in every heated greenhouse – and the shorttailed whipscorpions happily survive there. Their occurence was confirmed by Adrián Purkart (pers. comm.) also in 2016.

arachnida external links

Western Australian Museum go to


Encyclopedia of Life
Tree Of Life web project
Schizomids (AAS)

Australian Faunal Directory


SARASEditor: Peter Fenďa
Last updated: 8th November 2018