Those of us in the South West have likely come face to face with a creepy crawly such as a scorpion at least one time in our life. Some of us less fortune, know all too well, that once the winter thaws out; when the week of Spring is over, and Summer smacks us in the face; with 98 degree Fahrenheit weather, at 9 o’clock am, that it brings out what I not so lovingly call, the death bug.
Every year like clock work, we in Arizona can tell exactly when Summer is going to hit us hard. Typically around Easter Sunday the scorpions start crawling out of every nook and cranny they have been hiding in. I kid you not, I am always SO surprised to see BIG ones so early in the season! What did they do the entire winter? Do they eat in their sleep?
First here’s a few things you should know about Scorpions:
1) First you must be able to identify scorpions pretty quickly. Below you will see a few images of scorpions, the most common ones in Arizona (since I’m an Arizonian Native Rat, and that’s as vast as my knowledge and/or interest goes because they freak me out!)
Yes they can and do get this big, if they are this big, that’s NOT a good sign. Call a SPECIALIZED (YES SPECIALIZED) scorpion ONLY exterminator. They often have special licenses, chemicals, and are more knowledgeable in exterminating these pests.
This is an Arizona Bark Scorpion. These suckers are no force to reckon with. (OUCH! Yes, first hand experience! It was this past winter months that I was first and EVER stung by one of these guys, and I can say, no way in heck will I ever re live that! I would rather birth 10 more bowling balls before being stung by one of these suckers! At least insurance covers most of the financial pain! 10k for anti venom, and guess what, insurance only covers 2k if you have REALLY good insurance, or a severe enough allergic reaction, and in SOME, notice I said some, NOT all cases of young children stings.) These ones are the smaller of the scorpion family. Don’t let that fool you, in this case, smaller ones are the WORST, venom is much worse and lingers one. I was stung nearly 3 months ago, and I still have sensations in my foot where I was stung. These are the worst offenders, especially since they are mostly see through and hard to see, especially in beige carpets. FYI: If you can, try and have a different color carpet. These ones typically will not get larger than 3 inches. They chow down on insects of medium size such as roaches, worms, crickets, smaller spiders, etc. They give birth live to young anywhere from 25-35 at a time. If you see one, trust me you can bet you have more. THEY CLIMB rough surfaces, but can not climb smooth surfaces such as glass. ***That will be important later in the post. These scorpions are nocturnal.
This is an Arizona Giant hairy Scorpion. These ones can get larger than 4 inches. They eat your larger pest such as lizards, other scorpions, spiders, and other larger pest such as centipedes, caterpillars, butterflies, etc. They are know to scale cacti in hunt of a fat spider and their web of food. (Another reason I hate having cacti in my yard! Why oh why did I agree to them being in my yard? Don’t worry we are slowly getting them out of here!) They burrow to find water. SO, if you have stagnant water, or somewhere where there is under ground water supply, check your pipes for leaks! (WEAR GLOVES to prevent stings, and/or hire a professional. I’m partial to the latter idea!)
This is an Arizona Stripetail scorpion. They are usually less than 3 inches long. These scorpions are typically found under rocks and/or damp, cool, moist areas. DO NOT LEAVE WATER to stand still!!!!
This is a Yellow Grand Scorpion. This is a nocturnal scorpion. This scorpion is typically part of the food chain to other scorpions so it’s rare that these ones are longer than 3 inches, however if left alone it can be as long as 5-6 inches long! These ones reproduce the fastest and most often.
Videos to check out:
2A) Most scorpions will glow under black light. The BEST time to hunt these suckers is under the cover of night, WITH THICK SHOES AND GLOVES (Please do not attempt to do this in your yard, in/or around your home with flip flops. They move faster than you will believe!) You can do a DIY solution to combat them. Go to Home Depot pick up the following: two hand pumps to pour the chemical pesticides into. Get regular insect pesticides to kill the food source. Get Stinging bug pesticides and WASP/bee spray (LOTS OF IT!). During the day when most of the creepy crawly bugs that serve as the buffet to scorpions are most active. There are two best times of the day to do that. Early morning when they scurry about for their breakfast, and late afternoon as the sun is going down (so after supper time) as they get their food before heading back to their “homes”. Ant spray works WONDERS for things other than ants! =) ***Warning, what I’m about to tell you next is very volatile and is not “recommended” by experts because it is mixing chemicals, however in moderation I have found it to be safe for out side spraying and hunting. In one of the hand pumps pour equal parts of the bee/wasp spray and the stinging bug pesticides. You will want to use a face mask just in case of back splash, and to keep harsh chemicals out of the nose and mouth. Safety glasses are also recommended. Take your black light and go outside and check where water likes to spill and sit, under large rocks, around the nooks and crevasses of the houses, (no hole is “too small” they can squeeze their bodies through less than a centimeter opening.) Using the black light to hunt them, spray, spray, spray. Just keep spraying. When you see point, use what is left over in the bee/wasp strap can and directly and forceably spray them with it until it stops moving, do not stop until it stops. *** Make sure to wear gloves and thick shoes. Also be sure not to touch it with your hands even when dead. Use a shovel or something else. Some do not die right away.
2B) Next go to your grocery store (Walmart) and get borax, bleach, cocking agent and sticky fly pads/ roach homes. Seal up and cock ALL holes in your exterior foundation and walls. DO THIS DURING THE DAY!!!! DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do this at night. MOST scorpions in Arizona are nocturnal! WORST time to try and trap them in their “homes”. Trapping them means no food source, no food source means death, death means no more scorpions! yay! Next pour the borax and bleach down ALL drains, (don’t forget your washing machine drain and your dish washer drains!!!!!) alternatively every night for the first month after you start noticing an increase in bugs. (Typically happens during spring.) Place the fly sticky pads close to entry ways into the home that open frequently. ABOVE on the outside of the door. (The side that is outside.) I have found the most effective way is nailing them onto the actual wood that borders our doors. You wont believe how many simply drop on in as the doors and windows open and close. Strategically place the roach houses all around the garage, on the outside of your house, entry ways into the house, under couches, in corners of the house, behind TV stands, etc.
2C) Next go buy large mouth mason jars (or any other large glass jar to fit around bed and couch posts), mosquito nets, and shoe racks that have small smooth legs to prevent them from climbing up into shoes. Pull the shoe rack out from the wall, and place shoes on them. This is not 100% safe, but it is safer. Remember to always KNOCK your shoes together upside down with your hands on the bottom parts to drop lose any that might have gotten into your shoes. Next place all of the wide mouth mason jars under all of the beds, couches and chairs you chose to do so on. Make sure the legs of these furniture items are inside the mason jars. Then over the beds of your children and your bed hang the mosquito nets. .Yep, they climb walls, and they can climb some ceilings. I suggest that if you still have the 70’s/80’s popular “popcorn” ceilings, next winter get ride of them and smooth those out! This late into the year, not a good idea to do that.
3) I have heard that cats are a great source of hunting these suckers down and killing them. I would not know, we are not cat people, we are dog people. Our dog likes to kill them, so in my opinion our yellow lab is just as effective as a cat would seem to be.
IF you are STUNG by a Scorpion Here’s what you should do:
1) First of all, be able to identify what scorpion just stung you. Yes, I know, trust me, a lot easier SAID than actually done. But where ever you are stung at (In az, likely our feet since so many of us like to be bare foot, especially in our houses, and then think it’s okay to walk into the garage for something quick, and that’s when and where the majority of people get stung.) So look down and take a look at it.
2) Immediately sit down with the stung area above your heart. What this does is uses gravity to it’s advantage and slows down the spreed of the poisonous venom.
3) Get someone to get you an ice pack to place on the sting area. As you they are doing that, do step 4
4) CALL poison control. Believe it or not poison control is there for a reason. They have the authority to get you to a hospital if need be, they will call and check on you at different intervals, they are VERY good at advising you of what to do, what not to do, and what to expect. What ever you do, do not rush to the hospital. There is nothing a hospital can do, but pain management, unless you happen to have 8k sitting around waiting to be used for basically nothing for the anti venom. (Like I stated before, most insurances do not pay for it.)
5) They will advise you to take Tylenol, ib proffin, and or aspirin. You should already know what the max amount is that you can take at any given time in a 24 hour period. I recommend taking the smaller dose so that you do have an option to take more later. I also HIGHLY recommend taking a anti inflammatory such as ib proffin over Tylenol or aspirin. If intense sharp pain persist more than 24 hours or it gets to a point that you pass out and/or can not with stand the pain any longer, make sure to notify poison control, they will come out and check the specific family of scorpion and then head into the er. Again they will only pain manage you, so likely you will only receive something like morphine. ****For me personally the cold did not work so well, a heating pad and as hot of a shower as I could stand worked best. When I talked to an expert on scorpions he said that made sense. Women know that the best way to cleanse out pores is steam (heat) to open the pores. The same works with getting the venom out. Open those pores and let it wash out. Remember to keep it elevated above the heart.
6) Know that stings can have a lasting noticeable effect, where you can feel numbness and tingling for up to a week if not slightly longer. Stings are most hurtful if the scorpion is out prowling for food and has yet to eat. IF you are lucky enough to be unlucky to have been stung by a full scorpion the sting is not as intense.
The BEST way to teach children, young children, and toddlers to stare clear are as following:
1) Make sure they know to stay away from cacti and large rocks without mommy and daddy near by for supervision.
2) DURING THE WINTER MONTHS ONLY, I do not, I repeat do not recommend this during the summer months at all because that is their most active time. Go out and by scorpion bugs. Every major toy story has them. They don’t have to be the big expensive ones. The tiny cheap ones from like the dollar store are just as effective. Hide them in various spots like near plants, rocks, house corners and cracks, under rugs, in holes, next to walls, in the bath tub from time to time, etc. Get creative, you know your child best and what they see around them. The point is to hide them, but make them noticeable. When you child goes to check it out and look at it, STERNLY, not aggressively, and not to scare them, just sternly enough that they halt and stop tell them, “no no, ouchie buggie!” Use it as a time to explain to them that these bugs are big ouchies! You may want to touch one as an act of being “stung” and act really hurt, the more dramatic and believable, the better. Tell them that when they see this sort of bug to immediately leave the area and tell mommy and daddy so they can remove it safely. We did this with my now almost 3 year old son when he was nearing one and now he is so good at going, “uh oh momma! Big owie bug!” Lets face it, kids at this age are curious and defiant.
3) When you see one, do not get hysterical, try to remain calm. The first one we found last season we were able to capture it in a jar and used it as a teaching tool. We told our oldest (2.5 years old now, 18 months then) that this buggy could very seriously hurt him, mommy, or daddy and new baby brother that was coming. That he needed to tell us right away if he sees one and to not touch it.
4) Just like potty training, or teaching them to dress themselves, tie their own shoes, etc they need LOTS of positive reinforcement. Make sure that you give them LOTS of positive reinforcement.
5) Print photos out of the various different scorpions and hang them up somewhere where your child sits to do activities such as coloring, learning, etc. Teach them about them every chance you get.
6) Hang nets over their beds and put mason jars on the posts of their beds that touch the floor.
7) Teach them to stay away from water that is standing, like rain run off, etc.
8) Tell them not to go into the garage without shoes on. What I did was I bought crocks for toddlers (you can get the cheap brands at Walmart, and Target) and taught him that even if it’s for a second, that he needed to put his shoes on before going outside at any time and before going into the garage.
9) Reward them for finding scorpions and not touching them, and telling a grown up they found one. Candy works great and is so cheap these days! Stock up during Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc. They don’t care about what’s on the wrapper, they just want the candy inside of it!
10) Spray the children’s rooms for other bugs at least ONCE a month! You should be regularly spraying your home for bugs at least once a month to begin with, both outside and inside, make it a special task to do so in their children’s room more often than not. I do it twice a month during high buggy seasons. MAKE SURE to ventilate by opening windows, and turning on ceiling fans. Do it EARLY in the morning, after they wake in the morning. On those nights I typically have a slumber party in the living room, where we have movie night.
I hope this helps! No more scorpion stings! =)