Baths are finished and the kids are tucked in bed.  Mom goes in the bathroom and sees damp towels left on the bathroom floor. As she picks them up to hang them on the towel racks she feels a sharp burning pain in her left hand. On the towel she holds sits a scorpion. She has been stung by one of the scorpions Arizona has in abundance;the particularly venomous Arizona Bark Scorpion which is plentiful in the Phoenix area where she lives.

A life-long resident of the state, she knows how to treat her sting. She thoroughly washes her hands, particularly cleaning the site of her sting with soap and water.  She heads for the kitchen and makes a cool compress with ice chips inside a damp, folded wash cloth and applied it to the back of her hand over the sting. Then she looks in the cabinet for some ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and takes two tablets.  She knew better than to pick those towels up without checking them first. Scorpions love damp, dark places. In fact, her children knew better than to leave the towels on the floor to attract the scorpions in the first place. Centruroides koesteri con crias - 11

She knows she is not allergic this scorpion’s venom so is not in danger of a fatal reaction. She also knows that if the usually unpleasant effects cause extreme pain or if one of her young children had received the sting she would call the Banner Good Samaritan Poison Control Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. She keeps the number posted on the refrigerator and programmed in her cell phone.  The pain will be fairly bad, though, and she will have some tingling, numbness and vomiting. The next 24 to 72 hours will be unpleasant.  Already her hand has immobilized. She knows this dysfunction was temporary because her sister experienced a sting last year but it was still unnerving.  She knew extreme cases could cause breathing problems and muscle convulsions.

Because the state is home to over 40 species of scorpions Arizona State University developed an anti-venom that was used until 2004. Today the FDA approved anti-venom used is plentiful and there have been only two fatalities from scorpions since 1968 although there are thousands of stings annually. The Arizona Bark Spider is the most venomous scorpion in North America. Common to the southwest United States and northern Mexico areas of the Sonoran Desert, these scorpions are light brown and nocturnal. The male grows to slightly over three inches long and the female a little less. They prey on roaches, crickets, insects and beetles by waiting in ambush. They may also be cannibalistic. They, in turn, are preyed upon by birds, snakes, rodents, peccaries and other scorpions.

Centruroides (aka Bark Scorpion) are the only scorpions Arizona has that can climb walls, any rough surface and the bark of trees.  They also like to practice negative geotaxis; that is, they like to cling to objects from an upside down positions, on the underside of an object, such as tables or shelves. Scorpions are almost all solitary creatures; bark scorpions are rare that they will gather in the winter in packs of 20 or 30 together. They are so resilient that during the age of nuclear testing, scorpions Arizona technicians found near ground zero had no recorded ill effects from radiation.

2nd-instar-centruroides-gracilisThe bark scorpion hides under rocks, wood piles and old brush. They are also common in residences, unfortunately, because they only need one sixteenth of an inch of space through which to enter. Since females give live birth to from 25 to 35 young, the population in the home can quickly explode. In areas where construction is occurring the scorpion population increases in local homes due to the insects’ habitat destruction.  Because of the health hazards they pose, the homeowners should ask for the assistance of a qualified professional pest control service.

Scorpion pest control professionals will teach you to identify the bark scorpion from other Arizona ones, such as the stripe-tailed scorpion, the yellow ground scorpion and the giant hairy scorpion.  They will use inspection and control techniques to identify and exterminate the pests where they nest. Their integrated management approach includes identifying and reducing entry points into your home by the use of various methods around where electrical, phone and plumbing pipes and wire come into the house and where pipes in the bathrooms, laundry and kitchen come out of the wall. They also eliminate entry where the foundation and stucco meet. They customize recommendations to you on how to control entry points and keep your yard scorpion-free by removing or reducing piles of objects from your outer walls, and clearing brush.  

Pest control personnel will spray inside and outside your home. The chemicals are designed more to kill the scorpions’ food source of other bugs than the insects themselves. With no nourishment, they will move on to another home.  Pest control companies also teach homeowners techniques like changing outside light bulbs from white to yellow to reduce the bugs attracted so there is less incentive for a scorpion to come to dinner.