What Are Scorpions?
Scorpions are arthropods. Notable species of scorpions in the southwestern United States include the bark scorpion, which has venom that is dangerous to people; the Arizona hairy scorpion, the largest of the North American scorpions; and the stripedtail scorpion, one of the most common species. Other less common species of scorpions also occur in Arizona and can be found from sea level to elevations above 7,000 feet. Like the Arizona hairy scorpion and the stripedtail scorpion, these species play a beneficial role in the environment and pose no real danger to humans.
Scorpions are easily distinguished by their crablike appearance, pair of pincers, four pairs of legs, and long, segmented tail ending with an enlarged segment bearing a stinger. Although they have two eyes in the center of the head and usually two to five more along the margin on each side, they don’t see well and depend on touch. When running, they hold their pincers outstretched, and the posterior end of the abdomen is usually curved upward. Scorpions that hide under stones and other objects during the day tend to carry their stinger to one side, whereas burrowing scorpions hold their stinger up over their backs.
SCORPION LIFE CYCLE SCORPION STINGS TYPES OF SCORPIONS SCORPION CONTROL AND TREATMENT
SCORPION LIFE CYCLE
TYPES OF SCORPIONS
SCORPION CONTROL AND TREATMENT
Scorpion Life Cycle
Scorpions grow slowly. Depending on the species, they may take 1 to 6 years to reach maturity. On average scorpions may live 3 to 5 years, but some species can live as long as 10 to 15 years.
Scorpions generally hunt at night and use their stinger to paralyze prey. However, if the scorpion is strong enough to overpower its prey, instead of injecting its venom it will simply hold the prey and eat it alive. This conserves venom, which can take up to 2 weeks to regenerate, during which time the scorpion’s main defense is inactive.
Outdoors during the day, scorpions hide in burrows or debris, under wood, stones, or tree bark, and under floors. Indoors, scorpions may be found in cracks and crevices of woodwork, behind baseboards, in closets and attics, and inside walls. Scorpions gain entry into buildings through poorly sealed doors and windows, cracks in foundations, attic vents that aren’t properly screened, and through plumbing and other openings.
The effect of a scorpion’s sting depends primarily on the species of scorpion involved. The sting of scorpions is usually no more serious than stings of ants, bees, or wasps, unless a person has an allergic reaction. Normal reactions include an immediate intense, localized, burning sensation with a little redness or swelling. Symptoms usually subside after about 30 minutes.
The sting of a bark scorpion, however, can be serious. It can produce severe pain and swelling at the site of the sting. Other symptoms include numbness, frothing at the mouth, difficulty breathing, respiratory paralysis, muscle twitching, and convulsions. These symptoms are signs for the need of immediate medical attention. Especially at risk are children and the elderly.
Anyone stung by a bark scorpion or experiencing an allergic reaction to a sting should seek medical attention. Keep the sting victim calm and relaxed, and don’t allow the consumption of alcohol or other sedatives. It may be helpful to apply pressure compression as well as an ice pack to the sting site. Capture the scorpion for identification if you can do it without risking your safety. Antivenins are available to treat severe reactions to stings.
Types of Scorpions In Phoenix and Arizona
Three species of scorpions are commonly found in Phoenix, and Arizona. They are the bark scorpion, the striped tail or devil’s scorpion, and the giant or desert Arizona hairy scorpion.
Arizona Bark Scorpion (Most Venemous)
Although more than 30 species of scorpions are found in Arizona, only the sting of the bark scorpion is considered to be truly life threatening. Its slender shape, and its long, delicate pincers and tail distinguish it from other more stoutly-built species in the state.
The bark scorpion is the only species that prefers to climb, and it may be found many feet above the ground on trees and rock faces. Defensive stinging is usually a series of quick jabs, after which the scorpion makes a hasty retreat.
Its preference for climbing and natural attraction to cool moist areas makes the bark scorpion a frequent urban guest. Inside the house, scorpions may be seen trapped in sinks and bathtubs or hiding in dark areas of the closet or storage room. They may also be found climbing walls or clinging to the ceiling.
Outside, bark scorpions frequently lives in lumber or brick piles. The only species tolerant of others, bark scorpions may be found in large aggregations, especially during their winter hibernation.
Stripe Tailed Scorpion (Most Common)
The stripe tailed scorpion is Arizona’s most common species of scorpion. These sturdy, medium-sized scorpions are usually under rocks during the day. Like all scorpions, they are nocturnal and venture from their shelters at night to forage for prey.
A stout tail with darkly-marked ridges running lengthwise along the underside and a total body length of about 2 inches identify this most common desert ground dweller.
Arizona Giant Hairy Scorpion (Least Common)
The Arizona giant hairy scorpion is one of the least common of Arizona’s desert scorpions. It’s the largest scorpion in the United States (up to 6 inches long). Its large size allows it to feed readily on other scorpions and a variety of other prey, including lizards.
Burrowing deep in the desert soil, giant hairy scorpions often follow the moisture line. As summer progresses and the moisture level in the soil recedes, the scorpion follows it. It burrows as deep as 8 feet below the surface.
A giant hairy scorpion frequently assumes a strong defensive posture when threatened, curling its body and tail high overhead and spreading its pincers. The stinging action is swift and well directed, but the sting is mild, causing only local pain and swelling.