These nocturnal arachnids are often mistakenly called insects. Their adult size ranges up to 8 inches long. They prey on spiders, insects, and small rodents, and are found mainly in the South and West of the United States. Of the more than 70 North American species, only the bark scorpion, a yellow species found in and near Arizona, possesses a sting that is occasionally fatal to humans.
During the day scorpions rest in dark places such as basements, attics,. under stones, in log piles or debris. They may also take refuge under clothing or towels left lying about. If you live in scorpion country, avoid putting your hand into pipes or dark corners where you cannot see. Keep areas around the house free of debris and rotting wood. Seal all possible entryways especially around a cooling system. Wear leather gloves when moving rocks or debris.
Protect a baby’s crib by placing each leg in a glass jar (scorpions can’t climb glass). When camping, shake out boots, clothing, and sleeping bags before getting into them.
When dealing with a sting, it is difficult to kill scorpions with insecticides; the best way to get rid of one is to crush it with a large board or rock, keeping hands and feet well away from the stinging tail. Look for scorpions at night using a black light – a UV light bulb installed in a battery-operated fluorescent camping light. The scorpions will glow under the light.
If you get stung, call your doctor or the nearest poison control center. Describe the scorpion’s color, size, and markings. Trap it if you can. Even if it wasn’t a bark scorpion, a sting can be serious if it’s on the face, nape, or backbone. Relieve the pain by applying an ice pack to the stung area for 10 minutes; reapply if necessary, but do not submerge the stung area in ice water. A stung child under 6 or a person with a history of hypertension should be taken to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.