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Scorpion Facts & Information for Kids and Researchers

Scorpion Facts and Information

Scorpions are arthropods, they have eight legs, two pedipalps, and a tail with a venom-injecting barb. Scorpions have two venom glands that produce venom used in hunting and self defense. Scorpions do not have bones instead they have an exoskeleton made of chitin, which is similar to the shell of a shrimp.

Scorpions are found all across the world. There are over 2,000 different species found on six of the seven continents. They prey on insects, arthropods and in some cases small vertebrates. Because scorpions can live in such hash environments they have adapted the ability to slow their metabolism to as little as one-third the rate for most arthropods. This enables some species to use little oxygen and live on a single insect a year. Even with lowered metabolism, the scorpion has the ability to spring quickly to the hunt when the opportunity presents itself something that many hibernating species are unable to do. Some species can have over 100 viviparous offspring, followed by the young climbing on the mother’s back for weeks until first molt and living independently. All scorpions are venomous, they use their venom to paralyze and kill their pray and in self defense. Even small young scorpions can inject you with the same amount of venom as adults.

Scorpion Body Parts

Scorpions’ most recognizable and obvious characteristics are the exaggerated pair of claws, the long thin tail that is often curved over the back of the scorpion, and the stinger at the end of the tail that is used to inject venom.

Scorpions, like spiders, are arachnids (pronounced uh-rak-nid) and all arachnids share a well-known body characteristic; eight legs. In addition, arachnids lack wings and antennae, which can also help identify them.

Scorpions have an exoskeleton (external skeleton) made of chitin, a tough, protective, flexible molecule made of polysaccharide and nitrogen. The exoskeleton acts like our skeleton by providing support, muscle attachment sites, etc. but also aids scorpions by functioning in respiration and providing exceptional resistance to water loss scorpions, which is critical to the survival of these arachnids in arid environments they often inhabit.

Scorpions possess several key characteristics that separate these arachnids from spiders and also aid in identification of these animals (see the labeled images below for examples of each characteristic). For example:

The body is divided into three segments:

  1. The prosoma or cephalothorax (head)
  2. The mesosoma (abdomen)
  3. The metasoma (tail)

Each of the three segments contain key characteristics of scorpions:

  1. The prosoma includes the eyes, mouth, and the characteristic pair of claws called pedipalps, which have pinchers on the end called chelae. The pedipalps are not legs, rather they are additional appendages used to grab and hold prey, mates, or a rival scorpion during competition.
  2. The mesosoma is comprised of seven segments and contains 4 pairs of clawed walking legs, which enable scorpions to climb nearly any surface very well. The segments of the mesosoma contain the reproductive, respiratory, and other organs.
  3. The metasoma is the familiar tail of the scorpion, which is comprised of five additional segments and terminates in the telson. The telson contains a pair of venom glands and a hypodermic aculeus or venom-injecting barb (stinger) that allows the scorpion to sting prey or predators or humans.

Scorpions are highly effective predators because they possess a unique combination of characteristics that enable them to detect prey (eyes), move quickly and agilely over any terrain in pursuit of prey (4 pairs of clawed legs), and then catch and hold prey (pedipalps and chelae) while injecting venom into the prey (telson) to immobilize or kill it before using the pedipalps and chelae to bring the meal to its mouth.

Scorpion Venom

Each scorpion has its’ own unique venom, thus they all have a different toxicities. This is why the Arizona Bark Scorpion is lethal and the Desert Hairy Scorpion isn’t. Even new born scorpions have venom so do not underestimate their size.

Scorpion venom is used in moderation, it takes the scorpion a lot of energy to produce. It is used for subduing prey, in self defense and in some species mating. The venom is comprised of a groups of complex molecules called a neurotoxin, these contain proteins consisting of 60-70 crossed linked amino acids. When injected the neurotoxin attacks the nerve cells of the victim causing paralysis and death.

The sting of the Bark Scorpion is can be fatal to young children, the elderly and those who are allergic to the venom.

Scorpions In Arizona

There are more than 45 species of scorpions found in Arizona. Most common in the Phoenix area is the Bark Scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda) which also happens to be the most venomous and only lethal scorpion in Arizona.

Here is a list of most the scorpions that can be found in Arizona

Centruroides sculpturatus

Hadrurus arizonensis

Hadrurus spadix

Anuroctonus phaiodactylus

Diplocentrus peloncillensis

Diplocentrus spitzeri

Superstitionia donensis

Paruroctonus ammonastes

Paruroctonus baergi

Paruroctonus becki

Paruroctonus boreus

Paruroctonus borregoensis

Paruroctonus gracilior

Paruroctonus hirsutipes

Paruroctonus luteolus

Paruroctonus stahnkei

Paruroctonus utahensis

Paruroctonus xanthus

Smeringurus mesaensis

Smeringurus vachoni

Gertschius agilis

Wernerius mumai

Serradigitus joshuaensis

Serradigitus miscionei

Serradigitus wupatkiensis

Stahnkeus allredi

Stahnkeus subtilimanus

Hoffmannius coahuilae

Hoffmannius confusus

Hoffmannius spinigerus

Kochius crassimanus

Kochius hirsuticauda

Kochius russelli

Kochius sonorae

Pseudouroctonus apacheanus

Pseudouroctonus species

Uroctonites huachuca

Vaejovis cashi

Vaejovis crumpi

Vaejovis deboerae

Vaejovis electrum

Vaejovis feti

Vaejovis jonesi

Vaejovis lapidicola

Vaejovis paysonensis

Vaejovis tenuipalpus

Vaejovis vorhiesi

Scorpions are often found in the desert, although there are many urban habitats that are attractive to the scorpion. Scorpions are often found near mountains, buttes and the outskirts where there has been little urbanization. New construction can cause scorpions to move from there habitat this explains why homes adjacent to new construction often find themselves infested. A water source such as a lake or canal will attract prey for scorpions.

Scorpions In Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona Bark Scorpion

Arizona Bark Scorpion

(Centruroides exilicauda)

1-3 inches
Lethal sting
Desert Habitats
City backyards
Eats arthropods
Can Climb

Desert Hairy Scorpion

Desert Hairy Scorpion Eating Arizona Bark Scorpion

(Hadrurus arizonensis)

5-6 InchesNon-lethal Sting
Desert Habitats
Rural Backyards
Eats Arthropods & Vertibrates

Striped Tail Scorpion

Striped Tail Scorpion

(Vaejovis spinigerus)

2-4 Inches
Non-lethal Sting
Desert Habitats
Desert backyards
Eats Arthropods

How To Treat A Scorpion Sting

Clean with Soap and Water

Apply Cold Compress

Call Poison Control

If you experience trouble focusing eyes, random eye movements, trouble swallowing, drooling, tongue feels swollen, slurred speech, dizziness, blurry vision or muscle twitching call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 and proceed to the nearest emergency room.

Scorpion Sting Symptoms

Local Pain
Burning

Small Red Dot
Numbness

Tingling
Slight Swelling

Household DIY Scorpion Prevention

Scorpions prey on insects; If you can eliminate an insect problem the scorpions will have nothing to prey on.

Caulk up any cracks you may have in your foundation or siding so the scorpions can not enter your home.

Make sure your screens do not have any holes in them so the scorpions can not enter through an open window.

Remove any rubbish from your property that the scorpion may be attracted to.

Keep your lawn and landscaping short and trimmed make sure that there are no branches overhanging above your house.

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