Arachnid

The class Arachnida, which contains the scorpions, spiders, mites and their allies, connects the Crustacea with the Insects; and some naturalists include within it the eurypterids and king crabs, classified in this book with the Crustacea. All live on land and breathe air except a small group of allies (Pycnogonida) which are marine, and may be found on the rocks, and clinging to wharf piles, etc., on our coasts as well as elsewhere; they appear to be all legs, and are known to New England fishermen as "no-body crabs." The class includes seven orders, the lowest in rank of which is that of the scorpions (Scorpionida).

Scorpions are inhabitants of warm countries, and some tropical American species are six inches in length, but those of our Southern States are smaller. They have slender bodies consisting of a cephalothorax and a long abdomen ending in a sharp sting through which two poison glands inject poison into the wound made by it, the effect of which may be very severe on a man, and is fatal to the insects and other small creatures on which scorpions prey; this "tail" with the sting is usually carried curled up over the back. The body is protected by chitinous plates above and below. The legs are four. From the head spring two great, crablike, pincer claws. When these seize an insect they hand it back to two small but powerful appendages at their base which act as jaws. Between them is a small mouth. Scorpions are nocturnal in habit, hiding by day in crevices, and wandering about at night; thus they are likely to seek such dark retreats toward morning as a person's boots; and in hot, dry regions travelers must be cautious about examining their clothing and baggage to avoid being stung. The scorpions retain their eggs until hatched. The young when born differ little except in size from their parents, and are cared for with much solicitude by the mother, who carries them around with her for some time, hanging by their pincers to her body. The race is ancient, fossil remains occurring as early, at least, as the Carboniferous age.

The second order, Pseudoscorpionida, includes the "book scorpions," a series of minute, stingless, scorpion-shaped creatures found in moss, under the bark of trees, or more often on flies. A third order, Pedipalpida, is that of the scorpion spiders, or "whip scorpions" of the tropics; the fourth, Solpugida, contains certain ugly creatures intermediate between scorpions and spiders; and the fifth order, Phalangida, is that of the small-bodied, vastly long-legged things called "harvestmen" in England and daddy longlegs by us, which run about in the summer heat, and feed on minute insects. They abound in all the warmer parts of the world, and in great variety, South America showing some very bizarre forms. This brings us to the sixth order, Araneida—the spiders.