Scorpions inspire fear in many people due to their supposed ability to inflict stings that can be deadly. However, most longtime Arizona residents have learned that such claims do not hold much water, and this is especially true in the United States where antivenom is widely available and readily accessible in hospitals in all states, even states where scorpions do not exist. But this is not to say that scorpion stings are rare or even benign within Arizona. While the most venomous scorpion species, the bark scorpion, may not cause many deaths due to antivenom treatment, their stings are very painful and can be fatal to children unless they receive medical attention quickly. According to Keith Boesen, PharmD, scorpions inflict stings on thousands of people each year within the state of Arizona alone. In 2010, more than 2,500 scorpion sting cases were treated in Arizona, and normally hundreds of sting cases have been reported in the state before June arrives. Unfortunately, the bark scorpion is not only the most venomous scorpion species out of the 30 that are native in Arizona, but this species is responsible for inflicting the greatest number of medically significant stings. This is largely due to the bark scorpion’s habit of invading properties where they sometimes enter homes.
Bark scorpions are sometimes dismissed as harmless due to their relatively small size, which may motivate people to handle this species without concern. Most stings are inflicted during the nighttime hours due to their nocturnal nature, and if they enter homes, they immediately gravitate to corners and other dark and cool nooks and crannies. Indoor bark scorpions are most often encountered in closets, shoes, and alarmingly, toy boxes. The majority of stings do not occur as the result of an “attack”; instead, most people sustain scorpion stings indoors after rolling over or stepping on a specimen unknowingly. Scorpion stings can be prevented within indoor locations by wearing shoes and shaking out clothing and bedding. Ultraviolet lights can be used to illuminate bark scorpions that may be hiding within a home, and since they are unique due to their ability to climb up narrow furniture legs, it is recommended that families with infants in southern Arizona place glass cups beneath the feet of a crib, as scorpions cannot scale slippery glass surfaces.
Have you ever noticed a scorpion climbing on someone or something near you?