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Here are the facts behind these Arizona bark scorpion myths

Get the facts.

Phoenix homeowners know: when temperatures rise, it’s time to start looking out for scorpions. The Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in the United States—and a common household pest here in the Valley.

Bark scorpions are so unique in so many ways. It’s no surprise that they’ve had their own mythology build around them, as generations of homeowners pass on stories about prior stings and encounters.

In this article, we’ll take a hard look at some of the most pervasive myths about scorpions, and examine what the truth really is.

Start with a free inspection.

Here’s a fact: it’s hard to take on a scorpion infestation by yourself. If you want to eliminate scorpions and keep them out of your home for good, you’ll need the help of our scorpion control specialists.

Here at KY-KO Pest Prevention, we help Phoenix’s homeowners realize their dream of scorpion-free summers. Our multi-pronged approach to pest prevention—not just elimination—helps prevent scorpions from returning to your home.

If you suspect you might have scorpions around your home or property, click the button below and fill out the form to schedule a free inspection with our team.

Let’s break down some scorpion myths.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of tall tales about bark scorpions. Phoenix’s homeowners have been living with them for so long that many people have passed along information that’s, well, less than accurate.

Let’s take a look at a few of these myths and what the truth actually is.

#1. Bark scorpions are deadly.

Many homeowners are terrified of being stung by a bark scorpion, and not just because it’ll be a painful experience. Their life could be on the line.

What’s the truth?

File this one to half-truth. The Arizona Bark Scorpion can, and has, killed human adults, and it poses an even greater threat to children and the elderly. It’s venom delivers a powerful neurotoxin that can potentially be fatal. In fact, it’s the only scorpion in the United States that can kill.

Here’s the thing, though: bark scorpions rarely kill people. “Rare” actually might be an understatement: since 1968, only two people have died in Arizona of a bark scorpion sting. That’s out of the thousands of people who are stung every year.

For comparison, in the past 20 years, more people have been killed by snakes, bees, wasps, and dogs.

The key is hospitals and antivenom. Most serious cases result in hospitalization, where Phoenix-area hospitals can administer a scorpion antivenom—just as they would for a rattlesnake bite. In other, more rural parts of the world, scorpion stings are far more deadly.

Scorpion stings are most dangerous for those will an allergic reaction. If your scorpion sting is causing unusual symptoms, call the Poison Control hotline immediately.

#2. Baby scorpions are more venomous.

This one’s popular. Many people believe that baby or juvenile bark scorpions are more venomous—and therefore more dangerous—than adult scorpions.

What makes this myth so common? For one, there are similar myths about a lot of venomous creatures. Many people make the same assumption about rattlesnakes, for instance. In that case, researchers agree that baby rattlesnakes actually inject less venom-per-bite than their parents—although you really don’t want to get bit by either!

The same thing goes for spiders. In their case, baby spiders (called spiderlings) are just as venomous, but aren’t always able to puncture human skin to deliver their venom.

What’s the truth?

Infant or juvenile bark scorpions are capable of delivering the same amount of venom as older scorpions. Here’s where things get complicated, though: baby scorpions generally do result in a worse sting.

When threatened, many adult scorpions make a quick strike with their tail, delivering what amounts to an initial warning shot of venom. This accounts for many less severe scorpion stings. However, younger scorpions tend to just latch on, stinging for longer and thereby delivering more venom.

So, this myth is half-true. They’re not any more venomous, but they often will deliver more venom due to the way they sting.

#3. Scorpions lay eggs.

While we’re on the topic of baby scorpions, let’s talk about scorpion eggs. Many homeowners ask us about the possibility of scorpion eggs hatching from within their walls, or if there’s a way for our treatment to get rid of eggs and nests.

We’ll sometimes get asked if eggs are one of the signs of scorpions in the home.

What’s the truth?

On the surface, this seems right. Scorpions are insects, and insects (and most other venomous creatures, like snakes and spiders) hatch from eggs.

Actually, scorpions are a bit of an anomaly. They give birth to live young, just like most mammals. A scorpion produces about 25-35 offspring at once. These babies are birthed in the summer.

Scorpion infants are carried by the mother on her back until about three weeks after birth, at which point they venture off on their own.

Here’s what this means for your home: if you see either a baby scorpion, or a mother scorpion carrying her young, it means there’s more of them around. While there aren’t any eggs to deal with, you’ll still want to act decisively to deal with the infestation.

#4. Cats are immune to scorpion venom.

The ancestors of today’s house cats are believed to have originated in the deserts of north Africa—a region known for housing several species of venomous scorpions. This has led many people to believe that cats are immune to scorpion venom altogether.

What’s the truth?

Your cat is not immune to scorpion venom. This myth probably came about as the result of several close calls, where a scorpion nearly stung a cat, but didn’t actually make contact. Cats also generally attempt to hide signs of pain or weakness more than dogs (or humans, for that matter), which may be misinterpreted as “immunity.”

Cats are adept at avoiding and hunting scorpions. For one, their nightvision allows them to better make out scorpions in dark or dim conditions. Their fur provides them some protection from lunging stings, and their overall agility allows them to dodge the scorpion’s attempt to sting them.

However, it’s still possible for cats and dogs to get stung. When this happens, call your veterinarian immediately and describe the symptoms. They may advise you to bring your pet in for observation as a precaution.

#5. Scorpions are aggressive.

This one probably originates from Hollywood b-movies that showed giant scorpions terrorizing cities and running down people. People also probably get this myth from the fact that there are other venomous pests—such as wasps—that will seemingly go out of their way to sting you.

What’s the truth?

Scorpions mainly use their venom for hunting their prey. When dealing with something larger than themselves, they’ll use their tail in self-defense, but will typically attempt to hide or flee first.

Most scorpion stings occur when people accidentally brush up against the scorpion or step on it—not as the result of the scorpion going out of its way to sting someone.

That being said, scorpions are not bees, where the sting is a matter of life-and-death, last resort. They will sting if cornered or threatened. Always treat a scorpion—alive or seemingly dead—with caution.

#6. The larger the scorpion, the more deadly.

The bigger the scorpion, the more dangerous it is. Large scorpions carry more venom in larger tails, making them more of a threat.

What’s the truth?

There’s no direct correlation with size and venom toxicity. We see this in snakes (rattlesnakes are smaller than anacondas, which are non-venomous) and in spiders (black widows versus tarantulas). It’s true for scorpions, too.

In fact, bark scorpions are one of the smallest species in the United States, at about 3 inches long. It’s far from physically imposing: it’s a light tan color, and typically carries its tail curled up at its side. None of this stops it from being the most venomous scorpion in the country, however.

In contrast, the Giant Hairy Scorpion—the country’s largest and an inhabitant of Arizona’s deserts—has a much less venomous sting, on par with that of a honeybee.

#7. All scorpions are bark scorpions.

When most homeowners see a scorpion in or around their home, they automatically assume it’s a bark scorpion. Are they right?

What’s the truth?

This is far from the truth, but—for all practical purposes—might as well be true for Phoenix homeowners. While the Sonoran Desert is home to many different scorpion species, it’s the bark scorpion that has most successfully the Valley’s colonized neighborhoods and homes.

While other species can be encountered in areas where the city meets the desert, most other scorpions live apart from humans. They prefer underground burrows, or living under rocks. Their inability to climb or squeeze into tight spaces—the specialities of the bark scorpion—makes them less likely to invade homes looking for prey.

Call KY-KO for a scorpion inspection.

We offer free scorpion inspections to homeowners in the Phoenix metro area. Our experienced technicians can determine whether your home has an issue and take safe steps to remove the scorpion population.

We’ll also help dispel any other Arizona bark scorpion myths by answering your questions and providing you with questions.