While vacationing in a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, I was surprised by a small creature scurrying across the carpet of my dimly lit bedroom. I couldn’t imagine what this creature was, but knew I had to locate it before it crept into the night and returned later to find me or one of my unsuspecting family members. It was quite large, was rather fast, and I couldn’t imagine what it could be.
After a little searching, I spotted the small brown creepy, crawly thing under the bed, and I was lucky enough to capture it between the pages of a magazine. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was a brown scorpion! This was a very disturbing surprise, and it just about ruined the rest of my vacation. I never knew there were scorpions in North Carolina. I assumed they were only in the desert. I was from the Midwest, and the only scorpions I had ever seen were on television or in books. Worst of all, I was under the impression that the sting of a scorpion was fatal.
I squeezed the pages of the magazine with a death grip and carried the intimidating brown crustacean-like creature into the bathroom. I dropped it into the lavatory, and for a couple of seconds I examined the scorpion as it writhed in the water trying to stay afloat. I had never seen anything like it in my life. I quickly flushed it away and started worrying about being surprised by other scorpions that could be lurking in the home. I checked under every suitcase, every bed, inside shoes, beneath furniture cushions, and anywhere I thought a scorpion could be hiding. I was disgusted and somewhat scared. My four children including my baby were along on this trip, and I hated having to worry about scorpions.
After this incident I decided to learn what I could about scorpions. Is the bite of a scorpion really deadly? What measures can be taken to keep these arachnids out of a home? What is the proper way to get rid of a scorpion, and how should a sting be treated?
Interesting Facts About Scorpions
Surprisingly there are more than 70 species of scorpions in North America. People often assume scorpions are insects, but they are in fact arachnids. They are related to the spider, and a mature scorpion can grow up to eight inches in length, depending on the variety. Despite their fierce appearance, scorpions are timid creatures that don’t really want to bother humans.
Although the sting of a scorpion can be quite painful, most scorpions are not poisonous. A yellow variety known as the “Bark Scorpion,” is poisonous. The sting of this Arizona species can be fatal, but being stung doesn’t mean certain death. There hasn’t been a death recorded from a scorpion sting in more than 50 years. What a relief!
Scorpions are nocturnal by nature, and they spend daylight hours hiding in dark areas such as under clothing, within shoes, in basements and cellars, in attics, within piles of timber, and beneath rubble. Almost all dark places make good hideouts for scorpions.
If you want to check dark areas of your home and property for scorpions, an ultraviolet light bulb, otherwise known as a “black light,” will enable you to do so. Protein contained in the thin exterior casing of the exoskeleton creates the amazing blueish-green or yellowish green luminescence. A recently molted scorpion can’t glow until the outermost layer hardens and develops.
Just put an ultraviolet lightbulb, otherwise known as a black light, into a flashlight that takes a fluorescent bulb. Shine the ultraviolet light into dark areas, and maybe you’ll see brightly shining scorpion silhouettes.
You can take every measure possible to seal your home from scorpions, but no matter how diligent you are, scorpions may still sneak in. If you are concerned about scorpions getting into your home, there are precautions to take.
Unfortunately, over-the-counter insecticides aren’t useful in the prevention of scorpions. If your home is becoming infested by scorpions, it’s a good idea to call an exterminator. Professionals have access to stronger products for eradication.
If you are afraid of scorpions getting into your bed, put the legs of your bed into glass containers. Scorpions are unable to gain traction on glass surfaces. Make sure your bedding doesn’t touch the floor.
Always check your clothing by shaking it, especially if it has been on the floor. Also, check blankets, sleeping bags, and towels by shaking them out before using them. Check shoes by tapping them on the ground before putting them on. Never ever stick your hands into dark places where scorpions could be hiding. Everything fights for its life, and scorpions aren’t expecting to find you any more than you’re expecting to find them.
Treating Scorpion Stings
If you or someone else is stung by a scorpion, don’t panic. If at all possible, capture the scorpion by carefully herding it into a container. Cautiously put a lid on the container, and take it to a medical facility or call a poison control center so the variety can be identified. If it is determined to be a “Bark Scorpion,” professional medical care is necessary.
If the person stung is less than six years of age, they should be taken to a medical facility immediately. People with high blood pressure should also seek immediate care. Those stung on or around the face, neck, or spine should also seek immediate medical care. It’s better to be safe than to take a chance.
If a sting is determined not to be very serious, it may be treated at home. Clean the location of the sting using soapy water, and dry the area gently. If possible, keep the area of the sting at heart level. Make the person comfortable, and elevate the area using pillows.
Pain can be relieved by applying an ice pack or a cool compress. If an ice pack is used, be sure to place a paper towel or other thin material between the skin and the ice pack. Don’t leave it on for any more than ten minutes at a time. The area of the sting should not be submerged in ice water.