Scorpions? In My Bookshelf? It’s More Likely Than You Think

If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

For the most part, you probably don’t want bugs in your books. However, if you find tiny scorpions in your old books you should be happy. Chelifer cancroides or book scorpions are a type of pseudoscorpion that eats the booklice that eat and destroy old books.

As a psuedoscorpion they are not real scorpions, but they do have pincers and live in dusty areas, especially those with old vintage books. They are too tiny hurt humans and indeed are small enough you probably won’t notice them unless you are looking.

If you don’t have book scorpions and want them, well, all you have to do is buy old books and don’t dust them too much.

The first description of book scorpions is thought to have been written by the philosopher Aristotle in De historia animalium:

There are also other minute animals, as I observed before, some of which occur in wool, and in woollen goods […] Others also are found in books, some of which are like those which occur in garments; others are like scorpions; they have no tails, and are very small.

(image via wikicommons)

More Like This

An Epic Mother-Son Reunion in Italy

"You Over There, You," a poem by Jessica Barksdale

May 10 - Jessica Barksdale

7 Novels About Very Dysfunctional Families

Stacey Swann, author of "Olympus, Texas," recommends tales of family members making each other miserable

May 10 - Stacey Swann

Trauma Has Forced Me to Become a Powerful Witch

Elissa Washuta's "White Magic" confronts personal pain and the legacy of colonialism through tarot, pop culture, and magic

May 7 - Deirdre Coyle
Thank You!