Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beware, Scorpions !

When you think about scorpions (as I am sure you often do) you usually picture one of those old westerns set in a dry southwestern desert with a hapless cowboy waking up with a deadly scorpion slowly crawling across his forehead. Well, think again! You don’t have to go to Arizona to find scorpions. We have them right here in Fairfield Glade. The picture to the left is the surprise that I found in my house a month ago.

When I first moved to Texas 20 years ago I couldn’t wait to find my first live scorpion. One evening I was working late at the office, and as I was leaving I found a scorpion on the stairs near the parking garage. I scooped it up on a piece of paper and took it back into the office where there were just 2 friends still there. We decided to put Mr. Scorpion in an empty soda bottle so I could take him home. The little guy wouldn’t walk through the small opening on his own, so I brilliantly decided to roll him up in a piece of paper and create a tube through which I could then blow him into the bottle. After being careful to make sure he was on the far end of the tube, and being especially careful to not inhale, I blow-gunned him into the bottle. However, after looking into the bottle we didn’t see him and had no idea where the scorpion ended up. If you enjoy seeing three grown men dancing, spinning, dusting off, and screaming, you would have enjoyed seeing us that evening. Luckily there was no one left in the office to witness the spectacle and happily, after looking closer, we found our scorpion safely inside the bottle and all was calm again.

We didn’t need to panic like we did because the scorpions in Texas, as well as the ones here in Tennessee, aren’t deadly. In fact their sting is usually no more painful or dangerous than a bee sting. There are potentially deadly scorpions in Arizona and other parts of the world, but not in Tennessee.

There are two kinds of scorpions in Tennessee. The native one is the Plain Eastern Stripeless Scorpion. It is 1-2 inches long and reddish to dusty brown. They usually like moist areas under leaves or bark or rocks. Unfortunately, they also tend to find their way into our houses from time to time in search of crickets, ants, cockroaches, spiders, etc. The best way to keep scorpions out of your house is to eliminate the things that they eat from your house.

The other kind of scorpion in Tennessee is the same kind normally found in the southwest…The Striped Scorpion. They were “accidentally” introduced into Tennessee at some point. (It wasn’t me!) Both types look relatively similar, but don’t worry about telling them apart; the Striped Scorpions are no more dangerous than our native scorpions and I am not even sure we have them in Fairfield Glade.

There have been a few Plain Eastern Stripeless scorpions found in my neighborhood and quite a few more found a couple of blocks away, but I am guessing that most of you have never run across one, and probably won’t.

However, if you have had any scorpions in your house, walking around barefoot at night is the best way to find the next one. Almost all stings are a result of stepping on one. Scorpions are known to like to hide in dark moist places like shoes. I always shake out my shoes in the garage before inserting my foot, just out of habit. This is common practice in Texas.


Scorpions normally only come out at night, and one really cool thing about them is that they all glow iridescent green under a blacklight (UV light). If you had a portable blacklight and walked around a cowboy camp at night, you could easily spot green glowing scorpions crawling across someone’s forehead before it stung them. Have fun spotting scorpions and save lives at the same time…what a great combination!

No comments: