Vashta Nerada Fears Validated: Tiny Nightmare Bugs That Live Among Books Exist

Hey! Who turned out the lights?

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So science has known about pseudoscorpions for a while, but we didn’t know until just today that tiny, scary-looking bugs like to inhabit books and papers, so forgive us for having a bit of a moment. In return, we’ll forgive you for taking a second to check how many shadows you’ve got.

We good?

If it’ll help you sleep at all tonight, book scorpions don’t hurt people despite their proportionally giant scorpion claws. The most common species is Chelifer cancroides, which only grows to a maximum of four millimeters in length. Book scorpions feast on the booklice and dust mites which are attracted to starch-based glue used in older book binding, which is why they like to hang out around books.

It’ll also make you rethink your love of “old book smell” a bit. Sure, it’s nostalgic and all, but it’s probably just attracting book scorpions.

They don’t have tails for stinging, either, so mostly all they really do is protect your books from getting eaten. But who knows? Maybe if their habitat gets destroyed as all the old books start to get replaced with less parasite-attracting books (or e-readers!), the book scorpions will be forced to all band together wherever we keep the largest library of vintage books, and then they’ll form together into swarms and—I’m going to stop there so we can all go to sleep tonight.

Here, watch this video which casts them in a much more endearing light:

Awww, now they seem almost friendly.

Awww, now they seem almost friendly. Awww, now they seem almost friendly. Awww, now they seem almost friendly.

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(Scientific American via TOR.com, image via Doctor Who)

Previously in Nature’s Horrors

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.