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 the identification of these animals (see the labeled images above for examples of each characteristic). For example:
The body is divided into three segments:
- The prosoma or cephalothorax (head)
- The mesosoma (abdomen)
- The metasoma (tail)
Each of the three segments contains key characteristics of scorpions:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
Desert Hairy Scorpion
Striped Tail Scorpion
How To Treat A Scorpion Sting
With soap and water.
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. We are not doctors and this is not medical advice, if you are worried please proceed to an emergency room.