Have you ever heard that “an untroubled scorpion troubles no one?” Well this saying by Paolo Bacigalupi is very true and has been scientifically proven. The 1500 species of scorpions roaming the earth are happy to go about their business but they will sting you when threatened. Despite the truth behind the above statement the prevalence of scorpion bites in the United States is at one million stings annually and subsequent deaths are reported following these stings making scorpion stings a public health concern especially in places where medical care is unavailable.
Thirty out of the 1500 species of scorpions are venomous and their venom can be fatal even in adults. In the United States scorpions like the bark scorpion are known to cause severe reactions from their venom. Children and the elderly are the most susceptible to fatally succumb to scorpion stings.
Anatomy of a scorpion sting
Health care providers in areas with prevalent scorpion stings make available the symptoms of a scorpion sting that should give you concern.
Immediately after the sting one feels excruciating pain that can be debilitating. The pain is extreme and it begins instantaneously escalating to swelling and localized redness. This is quickly followed by a tingling sensation in the sting site and numbness. The area will also become very warm. These are the initial symptoms that should remain mild to moderate in intensity and then begin dissipate when is treated with basic first aid.
These symptoms begin to manifest when the venom begins to spread widely systematically into the body of the stung person. They include
- Difficulty in breathing
- Profuse sweating
- Uncoordinated eye, neck and head movements that typically look like hard jerks
- Muscle spasm with a lot of twitching
- Thrashing about of the limbs
- Increased cardiac activity
- Very high blood pressure
Notice that they look a lot like the symptoms of an anaphylactic shock but they can be more severe and they set in faster. But just like with bees and wasps it is possible for people who have been stung by a scorpion before to have an even more intense allergic reaction with a subsequent bite. The neurotoxins in the venom of the scorpion wreak havoc on the nervous system of the victim.
Why does a scorpion sting
The scorpion stinger is in the tail. The tail will rise up before it delivers the sting so one should look out for these telltale signs that the scorpion is about to sting. However, it is important to note that the scorpion will resist stinging you unless threatened like when they see a foot about to crush them. To avoid being a casualty of the scorpion sting make sure you check your clothes especially boots when travelling out in the wilderness. Also check the camp areas to make sure they are not hiding there. Bark scorpions live under logs, rocks and on tree barks.
Their natural habitat is the desert areas but they are prolific hitch hikers so check your luggage and camping gear when you travel around the world and camp outdoors.
Some people may have heard of a vinegaroon but for most, the word and sound of it might be completely strange. Guess what? The vinegaroon is the only whip scorpion found in the United States.
What is a vinegaroon
An encounter with one of these creatures can be scary because of their menacing look. But what may strike you as odd is that vinegaroon has features of both a spider and scorpion, so you might not be quite sure what you are looking at. Good news is you are not alone because countless people have had the same reaction when they set eyes on their first vinegaroon. One could say that the vinegaroon is a cross between a spider and a scorpion and they would be right on so many counts.
For starters, the vinegaroon is classified as an arachnid which is the same classification as a spider. Vinegaroons have eight legs just as spiders do and will rarely be seen during the day as they are nocturnal creatures. They also have two menacing claws the front of their bodies.
Vinegaroons also have a long tail like appendage at their hind quarters similar to the one seen in scorpions.
Is a vinegaroon’s bite venomous
Most people who have had the unfortunate luck of being bitten or stung by a vinegaroon’s, know that the sting can be quite painful. What’s more, is that a vinegaroon’s defensive mechanism against an intruder is not just stinging, but it will also release a spray. Should the fluid touch the bite area, one will have a burning/stinging sensation similar to the stinging effect of vinegar when it touches an open wound. The fortunate thing though, is that other than the aftershock of being bitten by the creature its bite and spray are not venomous. If not careful the spray can get into the eyes causing a stinging sensation. But other than the initial pain one may feel, there is no damage done.
The vinegaroon’s bite and its spray may be painful but it is not venomous nor life threatening. The best cause of action after one has been bitten, sprayed or both by a vinegaroon is to wash the area with water and soap. In the event that skin breaks as a result of a bite, then the real danger is in bacteria, and other germs infecting the area. Washing the area with soap and water ensures that the chance of an infection is minimal.
So the next time you are out camping and one of your buddies or yourself gets stung by vinegaroon spider, you will know exactly what to do. As mentioned before, this is a nocturnal creature and will rarely be seen during the day. They are however fairly active in the night. Folks going for camping or exploring the outdoors at night need not be overly worried about this creature. It rarely attacks humans and will only do so in a case where if feels threatened.
Scorpions are common in Arizona, with around 55 different types of them roaming the lands. Of these 55, only 3 are common around people. And of the 3, the most dangerous scorpion in all of North America is also the most common– and that’s the bark scorpion.
But during winter months, scorpions disappear and people assume that like many other creatures, they die off during cold seasons. This is a common misconception, and they’re just actually hibernating even in places like Arizona where winter is mild.
Whenever food becomes scarce, scorpions can easily go into a state where their metabolism is almost entirely suspended – this allows them to store precious energy, and they can survive on as little as 1 insect meal for a the whole year. During this time, their metabolic rate is actually the lowest for all invertebrates!
But food scarcity isn’t what pushes scorpions to hibernate during winter. While they’re extremely resilient and are able to survive extremely cold temperatures, they would much rather prefer to wait it out and hibernate somewhere warmer. And this often means hiding somewhere in a human dwelling where it’s guaranteed to be warm.
While scorpions are considered to be solitary creatures, it’s during these colder months that they will often gather together in clusters of 20 or even 30 to huddle against the cold.
When warmer months come, you’ll see scorpions out and about again – and you may even see them in greater numbers at first, since they’ve just gathered during winter and will be slowly dispersing again back to their more solitary lifestyle.
Scorpions are attracted to human dwellings for several reasons – we have shelter from the sun, food and water sources are readily available, and our homes are a reprieve during cold winter months. Of course, making your home less attractive for scorpions is the first step in making sure they don’t call your home their home.
- Scorpions can live for several months to a year without food, but only around 2 days without water. Make sure you eliminate any readily available water source by fixing leaking plumbing and get rid of any standing water
- Scorpion diet consists of a lot of pests, so getting rid of all these other bugs means less readily available food which may make scorpions want to look elsewhere. Crickets, spiders, lizards, and even other scorpions make a tasty meal for them
- Scorpions love hiding out in undisturbed places, so inspect cabinets, closets, and other places that may be seldom disturbed in your house. Scorpions will usually try to run away when they perceive danger, and that may just mean running right outside of your house
- Scorpions can hide under rock piles, wood piles, leave piles, and other debris in your yard – clearing these away helps make your property less attractive for scorpions that may eventually find themselves closer and closer to your home
- Remove clutter around your house and eliminate hiding places for scorpions
A lot of pest control companies offer scorpion exclusion services – this is when they seal all possible entry points so scorpions (and other pests) can no longer get inside.
- Install or repair screens on windows
- Install mesh screens on vents (bathroom and exhaust vents are common scorpion entry points)
- Seal cracks and crevices along the foundation, baseboards, and walls of your home
- Install weatherstripping to close gaps on doors and windows
- Inspect the walls around pipes to make sure there are no gaps found
- When bringing inside boxes or other storage containers, give them a quick look to make sure you’re not also bringing in a hitchhiking pest
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
- When clearing away debris whether you’re indoors or outdoors, wear thick gloves
- Shake clothing and other items, especially shoes, before picking them up
- Wear shoes when walking at night, especially if you’ve spotted a scorpion on your property
- Seal from the inside, as scorpions may already be in your walls
If you have scorpions inside the house, prevent them from coming up your bed by doing the following:
- Don’t leave anything hanging from the bed like blankets which they can use to climb up
- Scorpions are excellent climbers, and are able to latch on to anything except smooth surfaces like glass – so be sure to move your bed away from the walls
- Place glass jars (with the bottom cut out) on the feet of the bedframe so they’re not able to climb up
- In houses where there is a scorpion infestation, you may even spot them scuttling up your ceilings. To have peace of mind while sleeping, you may want to place a smooth surface on top of your bed. The idea is that if they’re crawling up on your ceiling and fall to the bed, they’ll hit the covering instead and slide off harmlessly on to the floor
Of course, if your house is infested by scorpions, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional pest control company for help! Professional pest control technicians are trained and will know exactly what to look for. They also come with proper equipment, and may use black light technology (which makes scorpions “glow”) to effectively and safely locate scorpions hiding in your property. Many companies also offer exclusion services, so you don’t have to worry about missing a possible entry point and having scorpions again inside the house.
For more information on scorpions, check out our Scorpion Archives!
If you think about where scorpions live, do you picture them in lush forests, or in arid deserts?
Both scenarios are actually correct. Often thought of as desert dwellers, these highly adaptable creatures actually thrive both in lush Brazilian forests and arid deserts. In fact, they can be found in all continents except Antarctica. The evolutionary history of scorpions go back hundreds of millions of years, and they’ve adapted to live in a variety of environmental conditions, including the harsh living conditions on top of snow covered mountains.
Scorpions belong to the class Arachnida. They are predatory arachnids under the order of Scorpiones, and are closely related to spiders, ticks and mites. These arthropods have 8 legs and are easily recognizable by the forward curve over their backs that end in a stinger full of venom.
Speaking of venom, there are almost 2,000 scorpion species, and all of them have a venomous sting! The good news is that of that number, only about 30 species carry enough venom capable of killing a human. In remote places where these venomous species are found, people dying from scorpion stings occur regularly, especially if they’re in remote locations with no easy access to modern medical facilities.
This is especially concerning in underdeveloped tropical and subtropical countries – according to studies published on Medline, the annual estimated number of scorpion stings is 1.2 million, and of this, 0.27% lead to deaths. It may not seem much, but that’s 3240 people every year. That means that for every person killed by a poisonous or venomous snake, 10 people are killed by venomous scorpions.
What we should worry about in the US
In the United States, that number is much, much lower – only 4 people have died as a result of a scorpion sting in over a decade.That said, a scorpion sting can still very painful.
Most of the scorpions in the country are found in the southwest. Arizona is popular for being home to a lot of these scorpions, including the most venomous species in the country, the potentially deadly Arizona bark scorpion – also found in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
Scorpions are nocturnal, burrowing creatures. They like to hide under rocks, trees, bushes, in holes, anything where they can find shelter from the sun – including your house and garage. They have been found to hide under piles of laundry, and even seek shelter in unusedshoes. They are also known to lie in wait for their prey so you may not even notice them when you pass byuntil the scorpion, fearing for its life, stings you.
If you find one, there’s a good chance there are more in the area (a pregnant scorpion can give birth to dozens of scorplings at the same time). If it’s inside your home, there’s also a good chance that your home is vulnerable and that there are pest entry points you need to locate and seal.
Never handle a scorpion with your bare hands, and insecticide sprays only work when sprayed directly on the scorpion. If you need professional help, pest control services like Watchdog Pest Control are only a call away.
One of the most frightening things you may ever see in this world is a mother scorpion scuttling on the ground and carrying her babies – on her back! It may not look like it, but scorpions actually have great maternal instincts and are excellent caretakers of their brood as far as arthropods go (unless she gets too hungry… in which case, a mother scorpion has been known to snack on a baby or two, but only as a last resort, thank goodness). She carries them for several days and protects them until their first molt — shortly after, these baby scorpions will learn to hunt for themselves and leave to make a life of their own.
Baby scorpions are called scorplings, and unlike most arachnids, they are born alive and are even born one by one. While scorpions usually give birth to 20 to 30 babies, they can have as many as 100 babies per brood!
Scorplings are born with a very soft and light-colored exoskeleton which leaves them vulnerable to predators, and will climb on their mother’s back one by one for relative safety where they’ll stay for about 2 weeks.Once they molt, these exoskeletons will be replaced by another exoskeleton that is much harder, and this process will repeat a number of times throughout a scorpion’s life as it grows older and changes size.
A young scorpion will have a lighter color, and while they’re not able to sting as babies, once they’ve molted and have left their mothers they’ll have stings as painful (and as dangerous) as an adult’s. If you find one wandering your home, chances are its siblings, and possibly their mother, is still nearby.
Treat it as you would an adult scorpion and handle it with care. Make sure you’re wearing protective gear like gloves. If you’d like to release it outside, make sure to put it in a secure container to keep it away from your hands while you’re walking. Otherwise, insecticides will do the trick, and you’ll want to spray on cracks and crevices where more could be hiding.
Glue traps also work for catching scorpions and their food sources – which, by the way, you’ll want to get rid of as well if you don’t want scorpions in your house. They eat a number of insects, spiders, lizards, other scorpions and even small mammals like mice! Taking away their food source will make them want to move to more fertile lands.
You’ll then want to seal possible entry points into your house, such as cracks and crevices they can come into from outside. Put mesh on your outside vents, and screens on windows.
Note that scorpions would rather flee than attack you, but studies have shown that a mother carrying babies on her back may be more aggressive – this is likely because fleeing with her brood on her back makes for a slow escape, so she may want to take her chances with you head on. Handle with extreme care, or better yet, call a professional exterminator!
Doing a thorough search of your home and your yard with a blacklight, is actually a very effective way to locate scorpion activity and their hideouts.
When your investigating your scorpion situation, use an ultraviolet light. When shone directly on a scorpion, they light up like glow in the dark stars that we used to put on our bedroom ceilings as kids.
But why do they glow?
This is actually a tough question to completely answer. Scientists are working on getting more information as to why this occurs, However, they have some ideas as to why scorpions glow in the dark.
Scorpions have what is called an exoskeleton. They possess a cuticle which is a thin a section called the hyaline.
The hyaline section reacts to the UV light and moon light, and causes scorpions to glow.
Scorpions usually will not glow upon molting. Their cuticles have to completely harden in order for them to fully glow.
A common misconception about Arizona scorpions is that they die off in the winter. This is not entirely true though. Arizona scorpions actually dislike winters so much that they opt to hide in their homes until March or April. This is called hibernation and is also pretty standard for a wide variety of both insect and animal life.
They start hibernating as soon as fall begins, which is why most scorpions can’t be found on land during this time. What also helps them is the fact that they are built to endure a wide variety of temperatures. Although most scorpions are lone creatures, bark scorpions tend to form clusters when they hibernate or nest. They can even form groups of 30 or more scorpions huddled together. Once the clusters are formed, the scorpions stay safe until the weather begins to warm. Another option for scorpions during the winter is to make their way into a warmer environment. This warmer area could easily be your well heated home. They are very small and can even squeeze into a space as small as 1/16 of an inch. These creatures can be found hiding somewhere in your stores, tiny openings or maybe even your shoes, so be careful!
One of the reasons why it could be a little tricky to spot scorpions in your house is because they are nocturnal beasts that sleep during the day and come out at night. They feed on roaches, crickets and other insects. The bark scorpions are the only kind of scorpions that can actually climb walls which gives them a lot of options to hide within your house.
Just because it’s winter time in Arizona doesn’t mean that scorpions are gone hibernating for good. Always check your home for these pesky little critters just in case they were seeking a warmer environment. Watchdog Pest Control specializes in scorpion eradication, removal, and exclusion. Give us a call for details.
The most venomous scorpion in North America, the Bark Scorpion sting can cause severe pain, numbness, tingling and convulsions lasting between 24 and 72 hours. Tens of thousands of people are stung across the country each year, many in their homes. A large proportion of these stings could have been prevented by people undertaking simples steps to deter the bark scorpion from their homes. So here we explain what you can do to deter these common household pests from your home.
Seal Your Property
Sealing the cracks and holes in the foundations, walls and baseboards is an excellent way to prevent scorpions entering your home. These critters can squeeze through a gap as thin as a credit card! Be sure to close windows tightly so there are no gaps for an invader to climb in and invest in door seals to prevent an entry route.
Remove Potential Scorpion Shelters
The predominantly nocturnal scorpion will seek shelter during the day, becoming active at night. Removing structures that scorpions may use as a daytime hiding place will prevent the creature from hanging around both inside and outside the home. Store cardboard boxes on cupboard shelves and keep storage and wardrobes neat and tidy. Outside, ensure hedges and plants are trimmed so there are no places to hide and don’t leave garbage hanging around.
Lavender or Citrus
Both Lavender and Citrus naturally deters scorpions. Plant lavender around the perimeter of your home and use lavender scented cleaning products. The same principles apply to citrus products, a pot with some citrus plants near entrances to your home will deter the arachnid invaders.
Balance the Insects
Bark Scorpions feed on insects around the home so be sure to kill and remove ants, cicadas, crickets and cockroaches quickly. However, leaving spiders around the home will help! Spiders will kill scorpions in the vicinity.