Scorpions

Ag Biz News Column
By: Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent–Ag/NR

Scorpions

 

Are scorpions invading your home?  Scorpions are easily recognized by their characteristic shape.  Scorpions prefer a dry habitat but occur throughout Texas.  Scorpions are arachnids and are close relatives of ticks, mites, and spiders.  These arachnids carry a painful sting.

The scorpion has four pair of legs and two large pincer-bearing arms (pedipalps) in front of their body.  On the end of the long, slender tail is a bulb-like poison gland or stinger.  The tail is longer on males than females.  Scorpions range in size from ½ inch to 7 1/4 inches long depending on the species.

The most common species in Texas is the striped bark scorpion.  Adults of this species are about 2 ½ inches long.  Striped bark scorpions are yellowish tan with two broad, dark stripes running the length of the back.  They also have a dark triangular mark on the front of the head above the eyes.  Immature scorpions may be lighter in color.

Scorpions are nocturnal.  They hide during the day and become active at night.  This behavior helps them manage temperature and water balances which are important functions for survival in dry areas of Texas.  Scorpions prey on small insects, spiders, centipedes, earthworms, and other scorpions.  Some species of scorpions live for 20 to 25 years but a typical life span is 3 to 8 years.  The female scorpion has a gestation period that lasts about 8 months.  The female scorpion can give birth to 13 to 47 young but usually only birth 31 young on average.  Young scorpions reach maturity in a year or so depending on the availability of food.

There are more than 90 species of scorpions identified in the United States.  Texas has 18 species of scorpions but only the striped bark scorpion is found in the eastern part of Texas.  Scorpions are typically found outside near rocks, boards, and debris.  When temperatures start getting hot, scorpions may move indoors to escape the high temperatures.  Scorpions are found in a variety of habitats.

The sting of the scorpion may be painful.  The scorpion’s venom is a mixture of compounds including neurotoxins that affects the victim’s nervous system.  Severity of the sting of the scorpions in East Texas varies according to the individual and that individual’s reaction to the venom.  Allergic reactions are possible.  An ice pack applied to the affected area may relieve some of the pain.  If swelling and/or pain persists or if breathing becomes difficult, seek medical attention.

Scorpions are difficult to control with insecticides alone.  Remove logs, boards, stones and other debris away from structures.  Keep the grass closely mowed near home or other structures.  Install weather stripping around loose fitting windows and doors.  Store firewood away from the home or structure and seal around pipes or other crawl spaces may help reduce scorpion sightings.

Insecticides both naturally derived and synthetic can offer some control for scorpions.  Naturally derived pesticides for managing scorpions include rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, thyme oil, peppermint oil, and pyrethrum.  Synthetic pesticides for scorpion control include active ingredients such as permethrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, delta-methrin, propoxur, carbaryl, and bifenthrin.  Apply these pesticides around the foundation of the home and up to one foot above ground level on exterior walls.  It is also recommended to apply these pesticides around windows, doors, and other potential entry points for scorpions.  Be sure to read and follow all label recommendations when applying any pesticide.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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