Characteristics, Habits, and Geography
Scorpions are nocturnal, eight-legged arachnids with elongated bodies and two front claws ending in sharp pincers. Their most distinctive feature is a long, slender tail curving over the back and ending in a venom-filled stinger. Scorpions have two eyes at the top of their heads, and can have an additional four to ten eyes along the sides of their heads. Despite their remarkable number of eyes, however, scorpions actually have poor vision, and rely heavily on their keen sense of touch when hunting. Scorpions are typically between 1/2 and 7 inches in length. Their lifespans vary from 4 to 25 years.
The diet of scorpions typically consists of insects, earthworms, centipedes, and spiders, although some larger varieties of scorpions have occasionally been known to feed off lizards and mice. Because they can store food in their bodies and have extremely slow metabolisms, scorpions do not need to eat very often, and have even been known to survive for as long as a year without food.
Scorpions can survive in temperatures ranging from 68 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, and can be found in deserts, grasslands, and forests. They are present in all continents except Antarctica. During the day, they seek shelter beneath rocks and logs, in mulch and flowerbeds, and in holes in the ground. Occasionally they find their way into homes as well.
More than 1,500 species of scorpions exist worldwide, but only 30 or so of these species, including the bark scorpion of Arizona and New Mexico, are deadly to humans. Nevertheless, scorpion stings are quite painful. Sting symptoms in adults can include high blood pressure, muscle twitching, weakness, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing. Symptoms in children are often more severe, and any child who has been stung should receive medical treatment as soon as possible.
Homeowners should remove trash, logs, boards, and other objects under which scorpions may seek shelter from the yard. Tree branches hanging close to the home should be pruned to prevent scorpions from climbing into the home. Once firewood is brought into the house, it should be immediately placed in the fire, as scorpions will occasionally attach themselves to the wood. Additionally, small cracks and crevices through which scorpions can enter the house should be sealed.
There are a number of insecticides currently on the market that can effectively kill scorpions. However, homeowners who find large numbers of scorpions on their property may wish to call in a licensed professional pest removal company.