Mild weather year-round is the reason why most people live in or visit Tucson. Miles of walking trails, gorgeous sunsets, awesome mountain views and… scorpions. No, that’s not a selling point of our fair city, but it is a reality most of us have learned to live with.
Our temperate climate is a positive feature for most bugs as well. Some come and go with the seasons, but the most feared and venomous one – the bark scorpion – stays around all year.
The bark scorpion is nocturnal, prefers to ambush its prey, and usually feeds on crickets, roaches and other insects – including other scorpions! The bark scorpion is also one of relatively few species that are able climbers, which means it can be found not only under rocks or in crevices, but also in trees or high on rock walls. Once inside your home, they also can be found trapped in sinks or bathtubs, climbing walls, or in any warm crevice they can find … sometimes in your shoes, so beware!
A common myth is that scorpions die off during the winter, but they actually just hibernate. Although scorpions are solitary creatures, bark scorpions actually hibernate together in clusters of up to 30 scorpions. Once they’re done hibernating, you’ll begin to notice them as they head outdoors.
In Arizona, prevention is one of the best measures you can take to ensure winter control of scorpions:
- Ensure that all entry points are closed off. Scorpions can enter a home through the tiniest crack, so it’s important to make sure that your home is sealed at pipes, utility entry points and doors. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see daylight through an entry point into your home, it probably needs to be repaired or replaced. For example, replacing old weather stripping on doors can help prevent scorpions from getting inside your home.
- Make sure trees, foliage and shrubbery are trimmed away from your house, and don’t overwater plants as scorpions thrive on water.
- Clear all spider webs and have preventive pest control to keep other bugs at bay. Crickets, roaches and other insects are the scorpions’ food source.
- Eliminate as much clutter as possible around your home and get rid of trash accumulated outdoors; scorpions use clutter as shelter.
- Shake out shoes or clothes prior to wearing them. Also check towels and sponges before use.
- Bark scorpions are usually small, very quick, and can be difficult to spot due to their light coloration. However, scorpions glow brightly under black light, which can be used to spot them at night. Keep one handy and you’ll know if you have a problem.
If you are stung, expect to experience a good deal of pain, not just at the site but in other areas of your body as well. A bark scorpion sting has the ability to produce symptoms as serious as difficulty breathing, muscle twitches, rapid head and neck movements, sweating, nausea and vomiting. Those with allergies to insect stings, babies and the elderly should seek immediate medical attention.
Be aware of scorpions all year round in Arizona and do what you can to minimize their appearance in your home or yard. If they become a problem in your home, a licensed pest control company can offer treatment solutions to eliminate scorpions.