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The Scorpion and its Sting

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The Scorpion and its Sting
Photo by Jennifer Nordquest

Scorpions are nocturnal arachnids, closely related to spiders, mites and ticks. Most scorpions are found in the southwest states, however there are species that make their homes elsewhere, such as the southern unstriped scorpion (or southern devil scorpion), which is found primarily in western North Carolina.

U.S. Scorpion Species

  • There are about 1,500 species of scorpions in the world, of which only about 25 are considered dangerous.

  • 90 scorpion species have been identified in U.S., but they tend to be geographically regional. For example, according to Texas A&M University, there are 18 species of scorpions that exist in Texas. In the U.S., the main home-invading scorpions are the striped back scorpion and the California Baja scorpion.

  • The Arizona bark scorpion is considered to be the most venomous in the U.S. and one of the most dangerous in the world.

Scorpion Facts

Most scorpions prefer dry climates (with the southern unstriped scorpion as a notable exception). In addition, they prefer the outdoors, but will move indoors in adverse conditions or if prey is present indoors.

Scorpions feed on small insects, spiders, centipedes, earthworms, and other scorpions. Its typical lifespan is 3 to 8 years, but scorpions are known to live up to 25 years.

Because the scorpion has a flat body, it can burrow into tiny cracks and under rocks, stones, logs, etc. or under the soil. They can be found:

  • outside under rocks, logs, debris, and such.
  • around homes in wood piles, crumbling foundations, etc.
  • inside in crawl spaces, under debris, in ceilings, etc. Scorpions can climb walls, so they can be found on any level of the home.

The Scorpion Sting

  • Its sting can be slight or very painful depending on the species and an individual's sensitivity.

  • Although the scorpion sting is venomous, the poison of most have little effect on humans, however allergic reactions are possible, and stings are generally more dangerous for these people and young children.

  • Scorpions are not aggressive creatures, except toward their prey, but they will sting in defense.

Scorpion Control

Exclusion

Because it is difficult to control scorpions with pesticides alone, rather Texas A&M recommends environmental modification, including:

  • Remove all trash, logs, boards, stones, bricks and other objects from around the home.

  • Keep grass closely mowed; prune bushes and overhanging tree branches so they do not touch the home, as this can provide access for scorpions as well as other pests, such as ants, boxelder bugs, and rodents.

  • Store garbage containers in a frame that keeps them above ground level.

  • Do not store firewood in the home; bring it in when it will be immediately put on the fire.

  • Seal and weather-strip all doors and windows; repair any holes in screening. seal all holes and cracks in the exterior of the home and foundation.

Pesticides

  • Natural options: pesticides with rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, thyme oil, peppermint oil, and pyrethrum can provide some control, however they may degrade quickly.

  • Synthetic options: many pesticides with permethrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, deltamethrin, propoxur, carbaryl or bifenthrin are registered for scorpion control. Always check and follow label directions for labeled pests and usage.

  • Professional options: Professional pest control operators have access to additional products, such as wettable powders for residual control, and are advised to use the highest permissible label rate to achieve control.

When using pesticides, Oklahoma State University recommends following all label directions and applying properly labeled pesticides:

  • to baseboards, under furniture,
  • in interior and exterior corners, cracks and crevices
  • in the attic, garage, and crawl space.
  • to areas that contact the soil, including foundation, siding, porches, etc.

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