Most dare contests involve scorpions crawling into the contestant’s body. You see buckets of scorpions being poured in a glass chamber with the contestants stricken with fear because of the scorpion’s infamous sting. Media has indeed established scorpions as dangerous creatures. But did you know not all scorpions can kill you?
Scorpions have different sizes and colors but they basically look the same. The anatomy of a scorpion is divided into three parts: the head, the abdomen and the tail. The head contains the claws of the scorpion scientifically known as pedipalps. Pedipalps are used by scorpions for defense and sensory purposes. The head is also the part where the four pairs of their legs are found. A scorpion’s abdomen contains its genital area and respiratory organs. It is also where the rest of their legs are attached. The most known part of the scorpion would be the tail. It is where their sting, known as telson, can be found. There have been known genetic abnormalities where a scorpion possessed two tails. However, there is no known type of scorpion that is genetically born with two tails.
Scorpions can be found almost everywhere. Note that there are only around 30 species out of the estimated 1,500 species of scorpions known to have fatal stings. To properly address any encounter with scorpions, it is best to know the type of scorpions you may see crawling in your household.
Arizona bark scorpion
If you see a small, brown scorpion that is around 3 inches in length, that is most probably an Arizona bark scorpion. Arizona scorpions are most common around the Sonoran Desert wherein their light shell color makes it easier to hide. The Sonoran Desert covers southeastern California including a large area of Baja California and Baja California sur. It also includes areas of northwestern Mexico such as Guaymas and Rocky Point. It is considered an Arizona scorpion as it can be found in majority of the southern half of Arizona, including Tucson and Phoenix.
The adult male Arizona bark scorpion is bigger than the female by roughly half an inch. The bark scorpion is known to feed on crickets, beetles, ants and other insects. The Arizona scorpion is a nocturnal predator. They tend to hide in dug burrows and come out to sting their prey. They also hide behind rocks while waiting for a prey. On the other hand, there are many animals known to feed on this type of scorpion. Most common predators are spiders, snakes, rodents, birds, lizards and even other species of scorpions.
Though tiny in size, the Arizona bark scorpion is one of the most dangerous scorpions in the world. Their toxic venom is known to have adverse effects on both humans and animals. It can be likened to a bite of a poisonous snake despite their size. They are also very adaptable despite being native to the desert. One of the interesting scorpions facts is that they come in packs compared the most of the scorpions that are solitary. They can also be difficult to kill. In fact, Arizona scorpions have been found living in Ground Zero without any adverse effect on their body and behavior. They are already ready to mate once they reach a year old which is faster than the average 5-year maturity of other scorpions. A female adult bark scorpion can give birth to 20-35 kits which she will carry on her back during the early days. A young scorpion would appear like an adult scorpion except it still undergoes molting of the exoskeleton.
You should check your residences for dark, moist wooden areas as bark scorpions favor that kind of environment. Just be careful in inspecting your area.
Desert Hairy Scorpion
Another known scorpion found in Arizona is the giant desert hairy scorpion. It is considered as the largest scorpion in the North America with its average length of 5.5 inches. That is almost half of a normal ruler. Its name pertains to the brown hairs covering its body which helps detect vibration in the soil. Due to its size, the desert hairy scorpion is known to feed on other smaller scorpions and even lizards and snakes. You can identify this type of scorpion by its yellow body with a dark top and pincers similar to lobsters.
As mentioned, this type of scorpion can be found in the western two thirds of Arizona. You can also spot them in the Colorado Desert and Mojave Desert. These scorpions are well-adapted to the hot and dry conditions of the desert. They are usually hidden in their burrows during the day and emerge to hunt at night. A hairy desert scorpion’s burrow can be as deep as 2.5 meters.
Though not all scorpions are capable of killing humans, scorpions are still responsible for a number of deaths. Every year scorpion stings can amount to 1.2 million. Out of those stings, 3250 prove to be fatal. There seems to be a higher number of deaths due to scorpion stings in Mexico than the United States. Scorpion stings can have severe effects to children, older adult, and even your pets. Scorpions reach homes by tiny holes as entry points. They are also usually transported in people’s luggage.
A scorpion’s sting can be a serious thing if not treated immediately. For example, the bark scorpion’s venom can be likened to being electrocuted. It causes severe pain that includes numbness and vomiting in adults. A stung arm can even be immobilized or experience convulsions. Some people experience a short loss of breath. Small children can even experience paralysis and frothing at the mouth. You can also experience muscle twitching and weakness.
Compared to the bark scorpion, the hairy desert scorpion’s venom is not as poisonous. Its sting can be just as painful as a bee sting. The only threat it possesses for humans is having an allergic reaction. If a person turns out to be allergic then the possible symptoms would be prolonged pain and excessive swelling. There may also be difficulty in breathing.
First aid to scorpion sting can be simple. Make sure you immediately clean the sting point with soap and water. Apply cool compress but do not use ice. Take a pain killer such as ibuprofen to ease the pain and swelling. If available, you can apply beach using a cotton ball before applying cool compress. Bleach helps neutralize the scorpion’s venom.
If you are faced with scorpions, it is best to call professional help who knows how to kill a scorpion. Remember that all scorpions contain a certain amount of venom in their stinger which they use to attack their prey.
To avoid being stung by a scorpion, you must make sure they are not hiding in your house. Not seeing any scorpion during the day is not a confirmation that you do not have any scorpion hiding. Remember that they are nocturnal creatures and would only emerge during the night. Imagine being stung by a scorpion during your sleep!
Check all dark hiding places inside your house such as your cupboards. Make sure to also check your shoes, especially those rarely used, before putting them on. Scorpions may also be hiding under your beds. You should also check your flower vases and old, stacked carton boxes for possible dwellers. Your bathroom can also be attractive to scorpions due to its moist environment. Check under the sink, around your bath tub or even in the shower recess. Go outside and also check your pipes, air conditioning units and heat components. Remove unused firewood if possible and make sure you use gloves when handling firewood.
Ensure your house do not have small crevices that can serve as entry points for scorpions. Note that even a hole smaller than an inch can serve as an entry for scorpions. Another way to avoid scorpions in your house is having proper pest control. Scorpions tend to stay in places where there is an abundant supply of food. As scorpions feed on insects, a cockroach infestation can attract scorpions. Predators tend to go where their prey is found.
A natural, safe and common scorpion repellent is cinnamon. If you’re a fan of baking, you can most likely find cinnamon powder in your cupboard. Sprinkle cinnamon powder around your house especially in possible access points. You can pour bleach once a week around your bathroom and inside your drain pipes to deter scorpions.
Lavender is also a recommended scorpion deterrent. You can either plant those lovely blooms around your house or buy lavender oil in the market. Place some drops of the oil whenever you clean the house. However, the fresh plant tends to be more effective than the essential oil.
Another neat trick in spotting scorpions is using a black light. You can find specific scorpion hunting flashlights in the market. The scorpion’s exoskeleton appears black in daylight but actually glows under black light during the night. Once you have spotted your scorpions, you can easily step on them provided your shoes have thick soles. You do not want them suddenly climbing on your leg and biting you. You can also set up a tented glue trap if you do not think you are quick enough to step on these creatures. Make sure you use a non-toxic glue to avoid creating a health hazard for your pets.
If you are cleaning cobwebs, you might want to reconsider. Spiders are known predators of scorpions and other pesky insects. Just ensure that the type of spider living in your house is not a threat to your family.
Scorpions are not a common threat to a household if proper steps are taken. Still, have emergency hotlines and a professional scorpion exterminator available for any unexpected event. It is always better to be safe than sorry.