Scorpions. They are venomous, predatory pests that can be found on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica. They’ve been roaming the planet for over 300 million years — and can live up to 25 years old. Getting stung by one of these creatures can hurt, but in most cases, it won’t kill you. Nevertheless, you don’t want them hanging around on your property. But is pest control for scorpions the same as it is for other types of pests?
Today, we’ll take a look at the different kinds of scorpions and how you can get rid of them.
The Different Species of Scorpions
Now, before we dive into the different options for scorpion control, let’s get to know this painful creature a little better. A scorpion is part of the arachnid family because it has eight legs. However, the scorpion is very different from its 8-legged counterpart, the spider.
They range in size from 0.3 inches all the way up to 9 inches and their bodies are composed of three parts: a head, trunk, and tail. The tail contains a stinger that can be maneuvered all different ways to attack their victim. This tail is venomous, and in some cases, deadly. Scorpions also have strong pincers that can be used for grasping prey or defending themselves.
Worldwide, the number of scorpion species is around 1,750, but only 25 of them are known to be capable of killing a human with their venomous sting. In the U.S. there are two different species that are known to be highly venomous – the Arizona bark scorpion and the stripebacked scorpion.
However, neither of these scorpions are as lethal as the Indian red scorpion or the deathstalker. Both of these types are part of the Buthidae family of scorpions. The Indian red scorpion is found in areas like India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The deathstalker inhabits the Middle East. A sting from either of these creatures could be deadly.
U.S. Scorpion Types
Now, back in the U.S., bark scorpions, native to the Sonoran Desert can be found in Arizona as well as New Mexico, Nevada, and California. Stripebacked scorpions are also found in Arizona, but their reach extends farther than the bark scorpions. You can find these venomous arachnids in Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
But just because the most dangerous scorpions haven’t been found in the other 36 states, it doesn’t mean that these areas are without a scorpion problem. It just means their scorpions are unlikely to cause serious injury to anyone stung by them.
Altogether, there are around 70 to 75 different species of scorpions living in the United States.
Scorpion Stings – How Bad Are They?
While a scorpion sting is generally not fatal for a healthy adult, it could be more dangerous for a child or elderly person, particularly if stung by one of the venomous types like the bark scorpion. And they should be taken to see a doctor right away.
But in most cases, you’ll be fine once the pain wears off. Besides the pain of the sting, you may have a few other symptoms like swelling or numbness and tingling.
Treating a Scorpion Sting
Remedy scorpion stings at home by following these steps:
- Clean the wounded area with mild soap and warm water.
- Place a cool compress on the wound to reduce the pain.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed for pain.
It’s uncommon to have severe symptoms from a scorpion sting, however, if you have any of the following, you will want to get immediate medical treatment: difficulty swallowing, muscle twitching, blurred vision, sweating, vomiting, or irregular heartbeat.
Pets can also fall prey to a scorpion sting. Sometimes they are curious and try to “play” with the scorpion, only to end up whimpering back to you. Like humans, pets are generally fine after recovering from the pain of the sting, especially larger breeds of dogs. Small dogs and cats are most vulnerable to more severe symptoms, so if one does get stung, watch them closely and be sure to get them checked out by a veterinarian if they begin to behave unusually.
Where Do Scorpions Lurk?
Obviously, the best thing to do is either a) avoid scorpions altogether, or b) get rid of them. So where do these annoying little pests hang out? During the day these nocturnal creatures are hiding. They harborage anywhere dark and hidden: in crevices, crawl spaces, wall voids, under woodpiles, in closets, weep holes, or beneath your baseboards.
At night, these creatures come alive. In fact, shine a black light on areas where you suspect scorpion activity and you can easily see their creepy little bodies light up. They have a luminescent quality that will make them glow in the dark.
Keeping Scorpions Out of Your Home
To keep them out of your home:
- Store firewood piles, landscape timbers and stones at least 20 feet away from your house.
- Look for any possible entry points in your home such as cracks or holes and seal them off. Weatherstripping works well for doors and windows. Use caulk around pipes, eaves and any other cracks that might allow them to slip in.
- Bring in only the firewood you will burn immediately, and check it before bringing it inside. Don’t keep firewood inside.
- Trim back overhanging tree branches from the house to avoid giving scorpions a path inside.
What is the Best Pest Control for Scorpions?
So now that you know where they lurk, how do you get rid of them? Does pest control work on scorpions as it does other nuisances like roaches, silverfish or bed bugs? After all, if these things have been around for millions of years, it can’t be that easy to get rid of them, right?
Yes and no.
According to scorpion pest control expert, Mike Boyle of Burns Pest Elimination, located in Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas, scorpions are easy to kill if you understand their biology and their habits. But if you don’t, then trying to do it on your own will be difficult.
Boyle said that while most people recognize that scorpions are difficult to kill, they don’t understand the real reason why. And he shared some of the most common myths that he hears about them:
MYTH No. 1: Scorpions are hard to kill because they have a thick exoskeleton that cannot be penetrated by scorpion control products.
MYTH No. 2: They have built up an immunity to the products used on them.
MYTH No. 3: You can’t kill scorpions with products, but you can kill their food source.
“All of these explanations are false,” he said. “Scorpions are a bug just like any other bug. It’s their biology and the way that they move that makes them more difficult to kill.”
Boyle pointed out that “When a bug walks, it doesn’t want to be out in the open. It likes to be compressed.” And he explained that when most bugs move about they always keep part of their body up against a wall or the ground.
“That’s why placing a barrier of pest control products around the home works with most insects,” he said. “Because their bodies are always in contact with a surface, as they cross a barrier they generally absorb enough product to kill them.”
Scorpions Respond Differently to Pest Control
But scorpions are different. “They walk on their tiptoes,” he says. “So even if they do come in contact with a product intended to eliminate them, they take in a very small amount.”
This is what makes them hard to kill.
And he said that the pest control products that work on other creatures are just as effective on a scorpion infestation — if applied correctly.
“Killing scorpions is about the person applying the product, not the product itself,” he said.
In Arizona, where he is located, homes commonly have block walls outside around the perimeter of the yard. And periodically along the walls, there are vertical columns. “Scorpions like to hang out upside down and vertical,” he said. “So these columns are a favorite dwelling place for scorpions. When a homeowner has a scorpion problem, we look for cracks in these columns and treat them.”
Boyle recommends using a pest control company that understands the biology of these pests in order to effectively eliminate them.
What if There’s a Scorpion in Your House?
If a scorpion has managed to creep inside your home, yes, you’ll take preventive actions or call the exterminator later, but there’s a scorpion in your house right now. What do you do? Can you stomp on it or crush it with a fly swatter?
The Nonlethal Method: Capture and Release
An inside scorpion can be safely escorted outside, according to a publication from the University of California-Davis Integrated Pest Management Program. It recommends:
- Place a quart-size glass jar over the scorpion.
- Slide a heavy piece of construction paper underneath.
- Secure the paper with your hand and flip it right-side-up. The scorpion will fall to the bottom.
- Screw the lid on the jar, and put it outside. Far outside.
As an alternative, the publication notes, if you have forceps at least 10 inches long, you can pick up the scorpion and place it in the screw-top jar.
The Lethal Method: Squash or Spray
If you spot it before it finds you, then it’s not too different from killing any other type of bug. Of course, you will want to be mindful of its stinger, but a scorpion is not difficult to kill. As we mentioned earlier they don’t have an extra thick exoskeleton, nor have they developed a tolerance for pesticides — those are myths.
So you have a few different options. You can squash it with a shoe or another object, but its best that you aren’t wearing the shoe at the time so that you avoid getting stung. This is an easy way to kill a scorpion in your home, but you may be left with guts and goop to clean up.
You could also spray the scorpion with a pesticide if you have some on hand, but keep in mind that it’s toxic and if you have pets or small children around, you are releasing harmful chemicals into the air inside your home. So if you go this route, you should open the windows and clean up any pesticide residue on your floor or furnishings.
But a great way to kill a scorpion is simply by picking it up with something sticky. Arizona Realtor Cristal Karler has an instructional YouTube video on how to remove a scorpion using duct tape. She picks it up with a piece of duct tape, folds it, and seals it in with another piece of tape. Once it is trapped, she simply discards it in the trash.
Now, if picking up the scorpion with duct tape is a little too close for comfort, then you can also use a lint brush with a long handle squash it and remove it from your floor, then discard the roller.
Hunting Down Outside Scorpions
To get rid of them yourself, Boyle suggests getting a black light (which can be found at your local hardware store) and a pair of tweezers. Then go out at night to look for them. “Because their bodies are so luminescent, you can easily spot them with a black light,” he said. “And you can catch them to kill or release out into the wild.”
You can also try killing them on your own with pesticide, but to be effective, remember that placing a barrier of pesticide along your walls or outside is not going have much of an impact. You must first educate yourself on these little creatures, then identify places in your home or on your property where they could vertically hang out before you spray with pesticide.
Sprays containing the chemical cyfluthrin are used to control scorpions in both DIY products and commercial applications used by pest control services. Cyfluthrin will also kill mosquitoes, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, earwigs, termites, gnats and other insects. It is less toxic to humans than to the bugs, but it’s still potent, so follow all directions.
If you can figure this out, then you may be able to do it on your own. Otherwise, you can call an exterminator to ensure that they are gone for good.