How to Bug Proof Your Home: Scorpions

Pest Management In and Around Structures May 28, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Introduction

Female bark scorpion with young on her back
Female bark scorpion with young on her back

Generally, a healthy adult experiencing a scorpion sting will simply experience discomfort and will require no medical attention. However, if a scorpion has stung a child (especially a child under the age of 7) an elderly or infirm individual you should contact a physician or your local poison control. About 90 species of scorpions occur in North America. Scorpions are active at night and or day. They are predatory animals that feed on a variety of insects, spiders, centipedes, and other scorpions. The larger scorpions occasionally feed on vertebrates, such as small lizards, snakes, and mice.


The bark scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda) is one of the only species in America of medical importance. Around 3 inches in length, it can be distinguished from other native scorpions by the slender pincers, the presence of a tooth or tubercle at the base of the stinger and the long triangular sternum (other species have a fivesided, or a pentagonal sternum). The sting of the bark scorpion can be life threatening. When stung the victim may experience local pain, sensitivity to touch, heat, and cold, numbness, tingling and possible extremity weakness. In children, who are at highest risk, hyperactivity and abdominal cramps have been reported.


The majority of stings occurring in healthy young adults may be managed at home with basic first aid measures and follow-up. First aid should include cleaning the site with soap and water, cool compress, elevating the affected limb to approximately heart level, and administering aspirin or another pain killer as needed for minor discomfort. Stings occurring in children or any patient experiencing severe symptoms should be taken to a health care facility immediately.

Prevention

  1. Remove loose boards, woodpiles, rocks, and debris from areas immediately surrounding homes; wear leather gloves and exercise caution whilst moving these objects in yards.
  2. All members of the family should be able to recognize scorpions, and everyone should be aware of the danger they pose.
  3. Storing shoes and such outside is not recommended, especially overnight. If a pair has been left outside, carefully turn them over and check inside for hiding scorpions.
  4. Remove vegetation and debris that could serve as a hiding place or breeding site near the house.

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.