While scorpions are commonly thought of as desert dwellers, they exist in a variety of other habitats as well. The task of getting rid of them can be complicated, especially when you consider that their average lifespan is three to five years and that a mother’s average brood numbers 30.
Moreover, scorpions are survival experts that can live in a suspended animation-like state when their food shortage is low. Nocturnal by nature, scorpions stay out of sight during the day before emerging at night to hunt spiders, centipedes, insects and other scorpions.
Despite their reputation, not all scorpions are poisonous to humans, however. The majority of those that enter dwellings are non-poisonous, except for two species found in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. A scorpion’s sting is similar to that of bees and wasps. All scorpions are poisonous to insects and their other prey, because their venom paralyzes their prey and renders them helpless.
How Do I Know If I Have A Scorpion Infestation?
If you live in a warm, dry climate and notice more than one scorpion in your house per month, or see both an adult and juvenile scorpion, then you could very well have an infestation. If there is a scorpion inside the house, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nesting there; it may be nesting outside and coming inside for water or shelter.
Scorpions can also be more common in newer homes built on the outskirts of metropolitan areas. Because they’re able to go long periods without eating, you may not notice them for several months yet could still have an infestation.
How Do I Know If It’s A Scorpion?
Scorpions are typically about three-inches long when fully grown, and recognizable by their long slender bodies and a multi-segmented tails that often arch over the body. They have a range of colors – from yellow, blue, reddish brown, and black.
One of the more common species of a non-poisonous scorpion is the “striped back” variety, which is distinguished by two dark, broad bands extending the length of the back. In the desert southwest, the bark scorpion is most often poisonous and can be pale and small, making them difficult to see.
Where Could I Find Scorpions?
Scorpions are likely to be found in these areas around your house:
- Junk Piles
- Lush Grass
- Swimming Pools
- Flower Vases
- Clothes Piles
During the day, the nocturnal scorpion prefer cool, shaded and protected areas. They could be hiding in any of areas listed above, and some species will dig burrows to use as hiding spots.
Possible entry points for scorpions can be small cracks and crevices in and around walls, because they can easily crawl through these small spaces.
When Will Scorpions Sting?
The typical scorpion will not go out of their way to sting humans since their natural inclination is to flee, or give a threat display, when disturbed. But if stepped on or otherwise crushed, scorpions will sting.
Again, the majority of scorpions aren’t really dangerous despite their reputation. Those who are more susceptible to their venom are people who are very old, very young, or allergic to them. Bark scorpions are the exception to this rule, and being stung by one of them will require a quick hospital visit.
Scorpions can even be seen as beneficial in that they can help eliminate bugs and spiders. Some have even been known to eat mice.
Where Do Bark Scorpions Live?
Bark scorpions are the most venomous scorpions in the United States but are most common to the Sonoran Desert region of the southwest U.S. While the majority of scorpions are solitary – it’s rare that you would find more than one scorpion at a time – bark scorpions can congregate in numbers of 20 to 30 during the winter.
Ideally adapted to the desert because of layers of fat on its body that make it resistant to water loss, bark scorpions are commonly found in areas of mesquite, cottonwood and sycamore.
Dealing With A Scorpion Infestation
There are a variety of ways to secure your dwelling from scorpions:
Seal Off Entry Points
Because scorpions can slip through small cracks – cracks even as small as the thickness of a credit card – you should use caulk to fill holes and cracks in your walls, baseboards, or the foundation of your home. Also, make sure that your windows close tightly and that your screens are sealed.
Eliminate Scorpion Shelters
Get rid of piles of wood, rocks or yard clippings that might attract a scorpion looking for shelter. You should also trim back bushes and foliage that scorpions can hide under. In the home, remove clutter – such as cardboard boxes (store these on shelves instead) – and pick up piles of clothes or shoes on the floor. If you keep a woodpile for your fireplace, make sure it’s placed plenty of distance from your home.
Get Rid of Bugs
Because scorpions usually feed on insects you’ll need to take special care if your home has a problem with roaches, ants, or other bugs. Make sure that you clean up crumbs and dishes that bugs can use as a food source, use safe insecticides to kill insects, and take measures to keep the bug population down outdoors since scorpions prefer to live there.
Remove Excess Moisture
Making sure that your home is free of leaks, and that there isn’t standing water either outside or inside the home, will deter scorpions – who may very well be seeking water. Also make sure that there is no standing water in your yard or in containers near your home, and fix dripping faucets. It’s also beneficial to fill up your bathtubs and sinks with water and flush them since scorpions will crawl up drainage systems at night.
Hunting For Scorpions
The best time to hunt for scorpions is at night, when they’re out from hiding and seeking food and water. By using an ultraviolet light, you’ll be able to see them clearly; that said, find an ultraviolet bulb for your flashlight or headlamp.
To search around your property, look on exterior walls, under bushes and other foliage, under rocks, at the bases of walls and fences, and around cracks and crevices near the house.
Natural Ways To Control Scorpions
Any of the methods listed above – from picking up clutter from the house and yard, to eliminating excess water – can be considered natural deterrents for scorpions. But there are other ways to deal with the problem naturally without having to use insecticides. Experts advise being consistent with whatever treatment you use because it’s hard to eliminate scorpions completely. And it’s important to act quickly when you suspect a scorpion infestation because it can take time to get the problem under control.
It may not be for the faint of heart, but catching a scorpion (and perhaps releasing them) isn’t all that difficult. Use a plastic container that’s wide enough to cover the scorpion, then slide a piece of cardboard underneath the container to cover it before transporting it outside.
If you’re hunting scorpions outside, you can use long barbecue tongs to catch them. Be sure to wear sturdy boots as a protection against possible bites, as well as keeping your pant legs tucked into your boots.
Because scorpions like to crawl up drains to gain access to your home, you can pour bleach down your septic system. Use two tablespoons of bleach during each application.
Damp Burlap Bags
A damp burlap bag placed out at night will attract scorpions seeking water and a safe place to hide. Dampen the bag and place it in the center of the room.
Use boric acid in powder form and apply in cracks, crevices and other hard-to-reach areas. The powder will adhere to the legs of insects and provide a strong natural insecticide.
Because lavender is considered a natural deterrent to scorpions, plant it around the perimeter of your home. You can also use lavender oil when cleaning your home, although fresh plants seems to be more of a deterrent.
Citrus is also considered another scorpion deterrent, as is cedar oil. Mix 20 drops of cedar oil with water and spray it on cracks, windows and doors. You also buy a bag of cedar hardwood granules – apply a two-foot wide band around your home’s foundation, or you can sprinkle them throughout the yard. They’ll also act as a repellent for insects, rodents and snakes.
Along with cats, chickens provide a good solution to eliminating scorpions naturally.
Will Pets Kill Scorpions?
Most people fear that scorpions will be harmful to pets, but that’s only the case if the scorpion is especially venomous. Cats – considered a natural enemy of scorpions – have been known to catch and kill scorpions around the home, and some dogs will, too. It’s important to not force your pet to catch/kill a scorpion; let them do it naturally and willingly.
Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Scorpions?
A somewhat disputed myth is that pouring rubbing alcohol – or any form of alcohol, for that matter – on a scorpion’s back will kill it because the scorpion will react by stinging itself to death. But studies have shown that scorpions are actually immune to their own venom.
What Other Ways Can Scorpions Be Eliminated?
Another method to get rid of scorpions is by sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the house, or in cracks and crevices. It’s a substance made up of ground-up fossils, and the tiny shards of fossils will pierce the scorpion’s exoskeleton as they walk over it.
Glue traps, and even rodent traps, can be used to catch or kill scorpions. Set them up in the dark corners of your home, then throw them away after catching a scorpion and set up a new one.
In some cases, it may be more desirable and effective to get rid of scorpions via professional methods and exterminators. Companies will often apply deterrents around the exterior of the house, and provide products that the homeowner can use on a regular basis to deter scorpions.
Professionals will also provide a night time black light service to determine if the problem is more than just a minor nuisance or rare occurrence. This service will also reveal entry points and hiding places that aren’t as easy to spot during the day.
How To Avoid Scorpion Stings
In most cases, avoiding a scorpion’s sting is a matter of common sense. For instance, you should never pick up a scorpion with your bare hands or fingers, and never walk barefoot around your yard – especially at night.
When you’re hiking or camping, wear long sleeve shirts and pants, and check your sleeping bag for scorpions before going to sleep. Also make sure to check your clothes and shoes before you put them back on.
What Should I Do If Stung By A Scorpion?
If you’re unfortunate enough to get stung by a scorpion, it’s important to remember that only some species have venom that’s potent to humans. But that doesn’t mean you should treat scorpion stings lightly.
What Are the Symptoms?
Like bee and wasp stings, scorpion stings are typically only painful to a mild degree and involve numbness, tingling and swelling. Severe symptoms include sweating, vomiting, accelerated heart rate, and blurry vision (more common with bark scorpion stings).
How Should a Sting Be Treated?
In most cases, scorpion stings don’t require extensive treatment. Wash the sting with soap and water, and remove all jewelry near the sting because swelling can hinder circulation.
Another method is to apply cool compresses to the affected area, typically 10 minutes apart. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, but taking one to two tablets of Tylenol every four hour will help ease the pain.
If you’re stung by a bark scorpion, it’s important to seek medical help (or emergency treatment by calling 911) immediately. The FDA-approved antivenom Anascorp is often used to treat the bark scorpion sting. It’s recommended that you also call the Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.) or do a database search for a poison center near you.