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Category: Bed Bug Bites | 21.12.2015
There seems to be some varied opinions about the potential danger of the Stripebacked Scorpion. It’s unlikely you will find the scorpion I’m looking for — the Texas cave scorpion (Pseudouroctonus reddelli) — in or around your home. Matt Turner, a board member of the Texas Cave Management Association, and Peter Sprouse, a longtime Austin caver, karst invertebrate expert and environmental consultant, guide me through the cave.
Sprouse finds a large adult scorpion on the cave floor, and it glows an eerie teal-green under UV light. According to David Sissom, a biology professor at West Texas A&M University, there are about 1,500 known scorpion species worldwide, and the species count continues to grow as experts discover and classify new scorpions. Scorpions exist on all major landmasses except Antarctica, in terrestrial habitats ranging from deserts to tropical rainforests to temperate zones, and from below sea level to elevations up to 14,000 feet.
Scorpions are eight-legged arachnids related to spiders, harvestmen, ticks, mites and whip scorpions.
How and why scorpions emerged from the oceans millions of years ago to become terrestrial and predominantly desert-dwelling creatures remains a mystery. Consummate nocturnal predators, scorpions hole up during the day in burrows, in crevices or beneath rocks to conserve moisture and avoid sunlight and heat. Scorpions have up to a dozen eyes (one pair on the top of the head and other pairs on the front edges of the head) and use eyesight to navigate and detect objects around them, even by starlight. All scorpions produce venom and use it to immobilize or kill their prey and to defend themselves against predators. Most scorpion stings inflict localized pain and swelling that may subside in an hour or two and can be eased with a cold compress and analgesics.
Of the estimated 1,500 known scorpion species, only 25 to 30 pose a lethal threat to humans. Today, scientists, not shamans and astrologers, study the secret lives of scorpions to understand the vital roles they play in our ecosystems.
Scorpion venom is a neurotoxin, a chemical that affects the nervous system, ultimately killing or paralyzing their prey. Androctonus australis, or the fat-tailed scorpion, can be found in North Africa and the Middle East and is the cause of many human fatalities. Those of us that live in the northern parts of San Antonio and the hill country know what it is like to be afraid to walk across the floors of our homes at night, always on the lookout for scorpions. While the sting of the striped bark scorpion produces only moderate reactions in most people and has little effect on the nervous system, it can have a profound effect on the very young, the aged and those that may have reactions to arthropod venom. Scorpions - I have not seen any, but heard from people and seen photos from neighbors on the other side of the development that have had a couple, but they are not very common from what I have heard. Scorpions are commonly thought of as desert animals, but in fact, they inhabit many other habitats as well.
Most of the scorpions that enter dwellings are not poisonous, their sting is similar to bees or wasps.

Scorpions have a long slender body with a 5-segmented tail that can be arched over the back.
Size varies between the various scorpion species, but most measure about 2 inches when fully grown. A typical non poisonous scorpion is the common striped Centruroides vittatus, striped back scorpion.This species is widely distributed in the southern United States. 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.
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. Although scorpions are equipped with venom to defend themselves, scorpions fall prey to many types of creatures, such as centipedes, tarantulas, insectivorous lizards, birds (especially owls), and mammals (including shrews, grasshopper mice, bats). 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. These dark-colored, troglophilic scorpions dwell in caves, grottos and other limestone karst features along the Balcones Escarpment. Turner spies a cave scorpion near the entrance, giving me pause as I slither feet first into the cave.
More than 90 scorpion species live in the United States, including 18 described species in Texas. Often called “living fossils,” scorpions date back 440 million years in the fossil record to the Silurian period. Despite their ability to thrive in arid habitats, scorpions — like all life forms — need water to survive. Scorpions also have inactive “slacker” lifestyles and some of the lowest metabolic rates in the animal world, enabling some species to survive up to a year without food.
They emerge at night to hunt and feed on a diverse arthropod menu of insects, arachnids and other scorpions.
The scorpion’s segmented tail, or metasoma, is armed with a formidable telson containing venom glands and a barb that pierces and injects venom like a hypodermic needle. Mexico harbors some of the world’s most dangerous scorpions, including several nasty Centruroides species.
Children, elderly people and those with weak immune systems are the most at risk to die from scorpion stings.
Chemicals in the deathstalker scorpion’s venom show potential for treating brain tumors and regulating insulin to help treat diabetes.

Unlike other arachnids, which are oviparous (egg-laying), scorpions are viviparous, giving birth to live young.
More than 4,000 years ago, Babylon­ian astronomers identified Scorpio as one of the 12 constellations. As a charismatic flagship species, scorpions are vital to the equilibrium of our food webs. Among the most dangerous scorpion species is Leiurus quinquestriatus, also known as death stalker scorpion. They are characterized by an elongated body and a segmented tail that is tipped with a venomous stinger. Patient, opportunistic predators, Texas cave scorpions feed primarily on cave crickets, and despite their fearsome appearance, they are reclusive creatures that lash out only if accosted. The other, Centruroides vittatus, commonly known as the striped bark scorpion due to the dark stripes on its tan carapace, ranges widely across Texas, the midsection of the United States and northern Mexico. Big Bend National Park, for example, is home to 15 species, and Baja California, a scorpion hot spot, hosts more than 60 species.
These ancient scorpions were aquatic arthropods that lived in swamps and estuaries and breathed through gill structures instead of the “book lungs” found in today’s scorpions. A complex cocktail of neurotoxins, organic compounds and tissue-penetrating enzymes, scorpion venom varies in potency from relatively mild to excruciatingly painful, even potentially deadly. Scorpions sting an estimated 100,000 people a year in Mexico, resulting in up to 800 deaths annually. Some scorpion toxins have antimicrobial properties that may spur the development of new antibiotics, while others act as immuno-suppressants for treating autoimmune disorders.
Many scorpion species have specific micro-habitats and ranges, and their disappearance in the wild sends a distress signal of habitat degradation that ultimately will affect all forms of life, including humans.
Most species possess a sting comparable to that of a bee sting, but a few scorpion species have a venomous sting that can be lethal to humans.
Similarities between fossil and modern scorpion bodies suggest they have changed little over geologic time, although some scorpion ancestors grew up to a meter in length, dwarfing today’s species, which vary in head-to-tail length from one-third inch to more than 9 inches. Other scorpions in the same family Buthidae, such as the Parabuthus, Tityus, Centruroides, and Androctonus are also known to possess strong venoms. Scorpion references appear in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Talmud and the Old Testament. Scorpions also figure in North African, South Asian and Latin American cultures, representing both evil and protective forces.

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