There are approximately 56 species of scorpions in Arizona. All scorpions sting (they do not bite) and inject venom, but only one scorpion in the United States is classified as potentially deadly: the Arizona Bark scorpion – how fortunate for us.
The 2 most common scorpions found in the deserts of Arizona are the Bark scorpion and the Desert Hairy scorpion. You are more likely to find the Bark scorpion in your home. Bark scorpions can be found in many places in the home. Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms are the main spots you will find them in. This is because all areas usually contain moisture levels higher than the rest of the home. Since moisture attracts the food they eat, (i.e. crickets, spiders, and soft bodied insects) those areas are places scorpions will tend to be found. They can also be found in dark places in the home like closets, many people have reported being stung when they go to slide on a pair of shoes. They have also been found in the folds of clothing stored in closets.
The Bark Scorpion is the smaller of the two, so it makes it easier for them to get into a home undetected. The bark scorpion is tan in color, with 8 legs and 2 skinny pedipalps (pinchers) on the front, and of course the tail with the stinger. They can grow to be 2 ¾ inches long and their vision is so poor they can only detect light and dark. So you might ask, So how do they find their food? They do it by sensing vibration and heat with the sensory organ their stomache. Scorpions are nocturnal creatures, so they can usually be found hunting for food during the night.
The bark scorpion occurs naturally throughout Maricopa County and most of the state. It is commonly found inside homes and buildings where it seeks out a defined area in which to live. If a structure is on that area the number of scorpions finding their way inside can be controlled but can never be completely eliminated.
It has two distinguishing characteristics. The first is that it is the only scorpion in Maricopa County that climbs. It easily climbs any surface except clean glass and clean plastic. It can cling to the underside of a piece of wood, walk across your ceiling, climb furniture, and get into clothing and cupboards. They are most active at night and seek places that are warm, dark and damp. The second important characteristic is that it curls up its tail and lays it down flat next to its body. This allows the scorpion to become very flat and squeeze into very small and narrow cracks.
The Desert Hairy Scorpion is the largest specie of scorpion found here in Arizona. It is said that they are the most docile of the scorpions found in the U.S. Because they are so large they are able to control their prey using brute strength in lue of the venom in their stinger like their counterpart the Bark scorpion. They range in color from tan to dark brown, with 8 legs and 2 thick pedipalps (pinchers) on the front and a thick tail and stinger. They can grow to be 6 inches long not including the tail. They also have hairs all over their body which makes them easy to i.d. Just like the Bark scorpion they also have a sensory organ on their stomach that senses vibration and heat. This enables them to hunt down food with ease. This scorpion is mainly found on the outskirts of town and into the open deserts. It is extremely uncommon to find this scorpion inside your home.
In the event you are ever stung by a scorpion you can expect a variety of reactions. These reactions can include but are not limited to, localized pain, trouble swallowing, random eye movements, slurred speech and respiratory paralysis. If stung you should wash the area with soap and water and apply a cool compress to affected area. Do not apply ice as this could make the pain more intense. If you start to experience problems breathing you should seek medical attention immediately.
There are several ways you can safeguard your home from scorpions. Start by making sure there are no gaps around your doors and windows. Seal any cracks or openings on exterior walls. Make sure things are not stacked up against the exterior of the home. (ie. firewood, boxes and storage containers) This would provide a perfect harborage area for scorpions. You can also get a black light and inspect the outside of your home when it’s dark. Scorpions glow green under a black light so it is a great tool to use to gauge the amount of scorpion activity on the outside and inside of your home. It is recommended having a licensed pest proffesional conduct monthly pest control service during the warm months of the year.
Because children under six years of age are more likely to develop severe symptoms if stung, special care should be taken if you are visiting or live in an infested home:
• Children should be protected in their cribs/beds. To prevent the bark scorpions from climbing up, place the crib/bed legs in glass jars.
• To keep the scorpions from coming into the crib/bed sideways, move the crib away from the wall and be that blankets and sheets do not touch the floor or walls.
• To prevent the scorpions from dropping in, you need to install a scorpion shield. Hang a piece of flat plastic, or other flat smooth board that is bigger that the size of the crib, several inches from the ceiling.
Place double-sided sticky tape around the inside of the board. Scorpions will then fall onto the board and get stuck, rather than fall into the crib/bed.
• Check the crib/bed in advance of putting the child to bed.
• Shake out all clothing and shoes before putting them on the child.
• Have the child wear shoes at all times and be especially careful around hot tubs and pools in the evening.
All of the above precautions also apply to adults, particularly the elderly and those suffering with allergies or respiratory conditions.
Signs & Symptoms of a Sting
The bark scorpion sting is extremely painful, but does not usually cause swelling or redness at the sting site. Victims describe the feeling as similar to having a piece of metal heated in a fire and then stabbed into the skin.
The immediate local pain and burning are usually followed by numbness and tingling that travels up an arm or leg. This is a totally natural reaction to the sting.
If visual disturbance, difficulty swallowing and swollen tongue sensations, slurred speech or respiratory problems occur, they should be reported to the Poison Center.
A sting by one of the other 55 scorpions will feel similar to that of a wasp with local swelling and pain.
Young infants and children are at greater risk of serious symptoms. A major problem is identifying that a scorpion sting has occurred because there will not be a visible mark or swelling. The child will be hurting and upset, and then the eyes will start moving in an uncoordinated, roving manner. In some instances the child may become hyperactive with accompanying facial twitching and heavy drooling.
Call the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center at 1.800.222.1222 to receive first aid instructions and determine if the victim needs further medical care.