Social pseudoscorpion nest architecture provides direct benefits to group members and rivals the efficiency of honey bees

Kenneth James Chapin, Anna Kittle, Anna Dornhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Animals may build nests socially to minimize the energy required for nest construction. Paratemnoides spp. pseudoscorpions evolved sociality independently from all other social groups, and colonies create silken multi-chambered nests in which they molt and raise young, analogous in form to the nests of some wasps and bees. Here we describe these nests and examine pseudoscorpion construction efficiency. Silk is generally energetically expensive and as such, we hypothesized that P. elongatus build nests of a structure that minimizes silk use, thereby maximizing nest construction efficiency. We measured the number of nest chambers, their perimeter, and their area, for 31 nests, calculated several metrics of nest architecture, and developed five alternative mathematical models describing other possible nest geometries. We found that real social pseudoscorpion nests are constructed with high efficiency, measured as wall length per internal area, approaching that of mathematical optima. We also found that these nests use less silk per capita than if the same chambers were built separately, i.e., if they were solitary. This indicates a direct benefit to group members. We compared observed nest architecture with five mathematical models of nest geometry and found that pseudoscorpion construction efficiency outperformed all non-cooperative models and rivaled that of a cooperative one approximating the honeycomb conjecture - a mathematical proof describing the most efficient way possible to divide a 2-dimensional plane. In summary, social pseudoscorpions design group nests with multiple chambers in a way that minimizes wall length per internal area and approaches the efficiency of honey-bee-like hexagon constructcion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-334
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Arachnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 23 2022


  • Bioconstruction
  • Paratemnoides
  • cooperation
  • nest construction
  • silk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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