Scorpions

Scorpions are commonly found in deserts, but are present in grasslands, savannas, and certain forests as well. They are predators that feed on a wide range of insects, spiders, centipedes, and even other scorpions. Larger scorpions can feed on small lizards, snakes, and mice. Scorpions are nocturnal animals, which means they only go out at night.

giant hairy desert scorpion

Sting

Some scorpions can deliver a potentially painful venomous sting. The venom of scorpions is used both for prey capture and defense. Their venoms are complex mixtures of toxins, which affect the victim's nervous system, and other substances. Each type of scorpion has its own mixture. Although these creatures have a bad reputation, only one species in the United States has venom strong enough to seriously harm humans.

The Bark scorpion has the most toxic sting in the U.S. It is found over much of Arizona and a small population live in southeastern California. The venom of this scorpion may produce severe pain and swelling at the sting site, numbness, frothing at the mouth, breathing problems, muscle twitching, and convulsions. Death is rare and an antivenin is available for severe cases.

SYMPTOMS

Usually scorpion stings are not fatal, but they can be very painful and may need treatment. The following symptoms may be seen:

  • Body discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Salivation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions
  • Convulsions

TREATMENT

Follow these steps if you are stung:

  • Call your doctor or emergency services immediately
  • Be calm and do not move too much
  • Do not raise the area of the sting
  • Remove blood or venom from around the sting by wiping away from the sting area
  • Use ice cubes to help dull the pain
  • Bandage the sting area tightly

Prevention and Control

Scorpions are active at night, so there are more chances to get stung after dark. Be careful around cracks or plants where scorpions tend to hide. Scorpions are most often found in dark places when indoors. Always check the inside of shoes, closets, cupboards, and beds. Shake clothing before putting it on and wear socks and shoes when walking around at night.

Scorpions do not nest, so it is hard to treat them with insecticides. If you use chemical control, carefully follow the instructions on the label. One of the best ways to control scorpions is to capture them, but you must be careful. Scorpions glow under a black light, so you can use it to find where they are hiding. To be safe, wear boots and gloves. You can prevent scorpions from entering your home by taking these actions:

  • Remove/Cover all trash
  • Remove unnecessary rock piles
  • Seal openings in outside walls with mortar or caulking and weather-strip doors
  • Screen doors, windows, and vents
  • Keep woodpiles away from the house and ground
  • Repair or prevent wet areas caused by leaks

Questions?

  (858) 694-2888

  vector@sdcounty.ca.gov

 

Desert Hairy Scorpion photo by Gail Hampshire
Giant Hairy Scorpion photo by Joshua Tree National Park