Reporter: If you’ve got termites or roaches, you know who to call, generally the exterminator. But what if your house is swarming with scorpions? And I’m not talking about that German rock band that did “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” In Arizona, these venomous buggers are a big problem, and also apparently a big business. Here’s ABC’s Clayton Sandell.
Clayton: They look like demonic aliens, venomous stingers glowing under black light, and they’re prowling for prey.
Woman: Oh my gosh, guys, it is venomous scorpion! Go, go, go! Get back!
Clayton: Scorpions, not in the desert, but in people’s houses.
Man: It’s ouch.
Man: Yeah, don’t touch it.
Clayton: In Arizona alone, 12,000 stings are reported every year, spawning businesses like the Scorpion Sweepers to offer homeowners’ peace of mind. Suited up like Ghost Busters, this team hunts the creatures that haunt Arizona homeowners.
Woman: They lift their tail, they aim it at you, and they do this little charge, and they are creepiest, most menacing bugs.
Ben: So, each of you, you have four sweeps tonight.
Clayton: Ben Holland started this company a decade ago when he graduated from college.
Ben: We are, I guess, technically exterminators, but we do it without the use of any pesticides, chemicals, dust, or granules.
Clayton: Scorpions are virtually invisible at night unless you look at them under a black light.
Ben: These are our lights.
Clayton: The sweepers swarm late at night to protect the homefront, one stinger at a time.
Ben: This right here is a perfect example of a habitat for scorpions. It’s a crack within the wall there, and that’s the best spot they love, they love those.
Clayton: Tonight, Ben is with sweeper Toby Riley at a home where they once caught 96 scorpions. That’s right, 96.
Ben: This is where I mostly see them, along this back wall, right on the edge.
Clayton: And it ain’t cheap, $200 for the first visit, then weekly sweeps, each one at least 150 bucks.
Ben: We run into a lot of different creatures out here. We’ll see snakes, javelina, coyotes, and then, you know, your pests. So we see a lot of scorpions, black widow spiders, brown recluses, lots of dangerous stuff out here that people want to stay away from.
Clayton: Every time they see that creepy glow under the UV light, they get to grabbing, from a wall…
Man: [inaudible 00:02:20]
Clayton: …to a palm tree…
Clayton: …even in the grass.
Ben: You got to be quick. When you go after them, you can’t think. You just got to grab them because they can feel you coming at them.
Clayton: While their clients sleep, no shoe or toy goes unturned.
Ben: Lifted that car with one hand.
Clayton: At just two homes, they catch 35 of the most venomous scorpions in the United States.
Ben: Homeowners get really freaked out. You know, a lot of people have newborns, so anybody’s gonna be concerned when they have a baby, and the venom from the Arizona bark scorpion is, you know, most dire to newborns, infants, people with immune deficiencies.
Clayton: While some people pay to get rid of these pests, amateur scorpion hunters like Richard Airey are getting up close for a different reason.
Richard: This is the first scorpion I ever described.
Clayton: Hoping to discover new species, he has already helped discover 12. How many of these live scorpions do you have in the house?
Richard: More than one.
Clayton: He says it costs about 5,000 of his own dollars to find and analyze his discoveries.
Richard: What’s amazing to me is that there are plenty of things to be discovered right here in America. This whole view right here…
Clayton: Most of Richard’s discoveries, like the “vahobas deborey” [SP] that he named for his wife, were found right here in Arizona. You have to know where to look. This skeptical volunteer we met at the campsite has been here all summer. How many scorpions have you seen up here?
Man: I haven’t seen a single one.
Clayton: Not a single one?
Man: Not a single one. No snakes, no scorpions, no nothing, except cattle.
Clayton: Just cattle?
Man: Cattle, that’s it.
Clayton: But Airey is convinced they’re here. As the sun sets over our campfire, it’s time for s’morse [SP] and to get serious. So before we get into this tonight, let me ask you a question.
Richard: Yes, sir.
Clayton: How many times have you been stung?
Richard: Never. Well, I’ve had opportunities…
Clayton: It’s hard not to consider the grave consequences to yours truly as we sat out into the night.
Richard: Come on, come out wherever you are.
Clayton: These eight-legged nightmare makers have me a little on edge, a bit of arachnophobia. That was the biggest fear of the night. Soon, a sighting.
Richard: There you got it, keep that on.
Man: Got them.
Clayton: Then it’s my turn. The scorpions are tiny, but Richard reminds me they pack up powerful sting. We’ve got another scorpion here in the rock, and with Richard’s supervision, I’m gonna try and use the tweezers and get it into the sample jar there. Here we go. Wish me luck.
Richard: I’m praying for you.
Clayton: Is there anti-venom that we have, first aid kit at least? By the tail, right, Rich?
Richard: My gosh, there it is. Good job.
Clayton: It will take time to compare these scorpions to others. We got another one here, so I’m gonna…
Richard: We sure do.
Clayton: But Richard believes the species we’ve found is unknown to science. How do we do?
Richard: Perfect. I was projecting finding 12 of them on the way up and we have 9 of them in the jar.
Clayton: If this is confirmed as a new species, might I suggest the “nightlineus claytoneus”? [SP] In the end, Richard says the threat of stings, which are very seldom fatal, is worth the reward of simply discovering something new.
Richard: And you know what? Every time I see them glow like that, it makes my day. I love it. And what I know is, when I get down with this, I’m gonna get to write another paper. More than likely, it’s gonna be another species and I get to name.
Clayton: For Nightline, I’m Clayton Sandell in Cottonwood, Arizona.
This video aired September 29th around 11:30 pm on the ABC Nightline news broadcast following the Jimmy Kimmel Show. The six-minute segment had a full three minutes devoted to covering and highlighting our Scorpion Control methods. This video is unique as it outlines how we work from the start to the end of a night. A second segment was shot in Flagstaff, Arizona with a scorpion enthusiast looking for new scorpion species in the high desert.
This shoot took place at a few locations. First Nightline sent a cameraman to interview our founder Ben Holland at his home. Shooting out on Ben’s patio it was very hot and muggy if you look at the video you can see him sweating during the shoot.
Later that evening the same cameraman came to Ben’s home again to film Zach Wilson, Drew Horton and Ben Holland getting ready for the night of sweeps. After everyone was geared up Zach and Drew went on to their sweeps while Ben and the cameraman met with Toby Riley at a home in North Scottsdale, Arizona.
The home shown in the video was a great choice, just a few sweeps prior to the Scorpion Audit we had found 96 Arizona Bark Scorpions at the property. The entire sweep took about 45 minutes and was cut down to what you saw in the video.
After that home, the cameraman followed Toby to two other properties and an alley in Tempe. Video from these locations was not used. Nightline spent about 6 hours shadowing us on the night to ensure they got the best representation of our services.