Scorpion Control and How to Get Rid of Scorpions
Scorpions are arachnids, not insects as you would think. They are close relatives to spiders, mites and ticks. There are approximately 1,300 species of scorpions worldwide. They have elongated bodies and a segmented tail that has a stinger on its tip. Scorpions are very common in the Southern and Southwestern United States.
Most scorpions in the United States are not poisonous, except for two species found in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Even though scorpions are common in deserts, they inhabit many other habitats as well. These different habitats include grasslands and savannahs, deciduous forests, pine forests, rain forests, and caves. Scorpions are nocturnal (they hunt for food at night).
Most of the scorpions that enter dwellings are not poisonous, their sting is similar to bees or wasps. It's usually better to assume that they are poisonous if you are unsure.
Prevention and Exclusion
Scorpions may invade structures and crawl under any object that provides protection. Since gaps around doors are a major entryway for these occasional invaders, seal up gaps indoors with weather stripping. Bark Scorpions have been known to climb into the tiniest of cracks. Plug up gaps around wires and pipes. Remove any clutter inside and clean up to eliminate any possible hiding places for scorpions. Since scorpions become active in the early spring, use exclusion methods during the fall and winter months.
Scorpions can not climb on clean glass. Place wide- mouth jars under tables and crib legs, if this poses a problem of potential broken glass, apply petroleum jelly on the legs.
- Remove outdoor harborages e.g. piles of trash, stones, boards, firewood on the ground and the landscape timbers.
- Prune shrubs to expose trunk and ground around the plant
- Remove leaf litter, mulch and other organic debris
- Points of entry into buildings, e.g. siding, windows, doors, pipes and wires, should be sealed.
- Employ tight fitting screens
- Use weather stripping around door, windows, and vents.
- Repair leaky air conditioners
Be careful in picking up objects during the summer months. Inspect the underside and scrutinize the object. Shake out shoes and clothing vigorously before wearing them. Do not walk barefooted at night. Use a UV light ( causes them to glow ) when moving about at night in scorpion infested areas. Do not swat at scorpions found on your body; brush them off instead.
During the spring and summer months, use residual insecticides in both a liquid form and dust form. We recommend either an encapsulated insecticide such as Ultracap 9.7 or a wettable powder formulation that mixes with water like Cyper WSP or Demon WP. Dust in void areas with an insecticide dust. We recommend D-Fense Dust. It is also helpful to use insect glue boards inside along the baseboards.Residual Insecticide Usage
Use a residual insecticide like Lambdastar Ultracap 9.7 or a wettable powder (WP) like Cyper WSP. They should be applied as a 3 to 10-foot band around the perimeter of the structure, into harborage sites, and around potential entry points, such as: around all windows and doors, along baseboards, plumbing, inside closets, and garage and basement areas.
Both Demon WP and Cyper WSP are wettable powders, that may leave a visible residue that can be seen against dark surfaces.
LambdaStar Ultracap 9.7 has a broad label (eliminates many insects) and has a long residue.
These insecticides are odorless, and the application includes both inside and outside.
Insecticide dusts should be used in the attic area if that is a source of entry. You may apply an insecticide Dust such as D-Fense Dust or Drione Dust with a duster. This dust would be useful in cracks and crevices, wall voids, electrical fittings, around doors and window frames, etc.
A convenient duster for dusting the attic area is a garden duster like the Dustin Mizer. It holds one pound of dust that you can crank out easily and quickly.
As an additional measure of control and a non-toxic method of scorpion control, place insect glue boards along the wall edges and under furniture.
Just like spiders, scorpions have eight legs. However, unlike spiders, scorpions have a large pair of pincers. Scorpions have a long slender body with a 5-segmented tail that may arch over the back. Size varies between the various scorpion species ( smallest at 1/2" long to the largest over 8 " long), but most measure about 2 inches when fully grown. Their colors range between yellow, blue, reddish-brown, and black.
- Scorpions are nocturnal, predatory animals that feed on a variety of insects, spiders, centipedes, and other scorpions.
- The larger scorpions occasionally feed on vertebrates, such as smaller lizards, snakes, and mice. They locate prey primarily by sensing vibrations.
- Although scorpions are equipped with venom to defend themselves, scorpions fall prey to many types of creatures that may attack them. Such creatures include centipedes, tarantulas, insectivorous lizards, birds (especially owls), and mammals (including shrews, grasshopper mice, bats).
- Scorpions feed mainly on insects and spiders and can survive without feeding for six months.
- Scorpions hide under stones, piles of rocks, cracks in masonry, in woodpiles, and under the bark of trees during the day.
- Scorpions enter structures seeking water and shelter.
Inspection for the scorpions is made easy with the UV Tracker Light
This tracking tool has 14 Ultra Violet LEDs for a powerful flashlight that will illuminate scorpions as well as fluoresce rodent and cat urine, making detection easier.
We recommend that you wear thick gloves, shoes, long sleeves, and long pants in the event that you come across a scorpion.
Inspect the following areas outside:
- Under mulch, pine straw, and wood chips
- Under flower pots, stones, rocks and retaining walls
- In coiled hoses
- Cracks and crevices in the structure's foundation
- Another technique to determine if scorpions are around a building to soak the area near the foundation with plenty of water, then cover it with plywood with a rock placed on top. This technique will provide shelter for the scorpions. Check under the plywood in a couple of days for evidence of scorpions taking refuge. If there is a population, inspect inside and outside the building.
Check the following locations inside:
- In attics (Striped Back Scorpions are common in attics) and garages
- In closets (check pockets)
- Inside shoes and piles of clothing
- On curtains and inside curtain rods
- Beneath furniture
Striped Bark Scorpions (Centruroides vittatus)
A typical non-poisonous scorpion is the common striped Centruroides vittatus, striped bark scorpion.
This species is widely distributed in the South Central and South Western United States(Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming).
It has two broad, dark bands extending the length of the back, on an otherwise yellowish-brown body. This picture shows the Striped Bark Scorpion feeding on a cricket.
Size: Up to 2 3/4 inch
Reproduction and Birth: They mate in the fall, spring, and early summer months. An adult can produce several broods. Gestation is about eight months, with an average brood size of 30. After birth, the young climb on the mother's back. Afterward, the young go through their first molt and disperse to an independent life. They average molting six times before maturity.
Identifying Marks: Two longitudinal stripes on the upper surface and a dark triangular mark on the front portion of the head region.
Color: They blend into their environment, ranges from yellowish to tan in adults. Younger Striped back scorpions may overall be a lighter color.
Habitations: The striped bark scorpion can be found indoors or outdoors in an array of habitats. Found under vegetation, rural structures such as old sheds, surface debris, and rocks. They are nocturnal in habits, becoming active at night.
Food Habits: They consume small insects such as beetles, flies, crickets, centipedes, spiders, and other small insects. They help reduce the local insect population. They stalk their prey at night, depending on a chemical receptor on their undersides to help with tracking their prey.
Stings: Their stings may cause swelling, but the sting is not typically deadly.
Bark Scorpions (Centruroides exilicauda)
The US species, Centruroides exilicauda (Bark Scorpion-pale yellow in color), is found over much of the Southwest. Also known as the bark scorpion, they are pale and small, making them extremely difficult to see.
The venom of this scorpion may produce severe pain and swelling at the site of the sting, numbness, frothing at the mouth, difficulties in breathing (including respiratory paralysis), muscle twitching, and convulsions. The Bark Scorpion is venomous, if stung, call your local poison control center and go to the nearest hospital or personal physician for treatment.
Size: Mature Adults range from 2.7-3.1 inches
Reproduction and Birth: Gestation is several months. They are born live and travel on their mother's back until their first molt. One female can produce 25-35 young.
Identifying Marks: They have two eyes on top of their heads. They have a habit of coiling the tail to one side when at rest.
Color: Ranges from yellowish- brown to tan. After Bark Scorpions molt, their color turns orange.
Habitations: In Arizona, this spider is found homes in and around some bark. They can climb trees and hang from high walls and ceilings. Since their eyesight is poor, they travel along walls and baseboards. During the day they take shelter under rocks, nooks and crannies, and around and inside homes.
Food Habits: They hunt for their food (roaches, crickets and other insects )
Stings: They have a long and slender tail that holds its stinger. Certain species in the desert Southwest can be poisonous. Stings usually occur when you accidentally step on it or brush up against it.Photos: Courtesy of Jim Kalish,UNL Entomology.