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A Molting Scorpion!

 

While collecting solifuges during field research in East Africa we often uncovered large Pandinus scorpions. We were SO excited when we found this one near Lake Bogoria! These scorpions are usually black, so the pale pedipalps and legs indicate a recent molt.  As the outer shell hardens – the process is called sclerotization – it often gets darker.  See the shed exoskeleton just to the right of the scorpion? It is called the exuvia.

 

This is a very vulnerable time for arthropods. They need to pump hemolymph into their appendages while the exoskeleton is still soft in order to grow as large as they can. They also need to hide until their cuticle is back to its normal strength.  Once the scorpion is  fully sclerotized it will either leave the area where the exuvia is (because it will attract predators) or it will eat it to ‘get rid of the evidence’.  Have you ever found an exuvia?

 
 

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