After witnessing the murder of Anty in Honey I Shrunk the Kids, I never had the best opinion of scorpions. They were this jerk bug which randomly appeared in suburban backyards to force you into hiding in giant LEGO pieces. And as amazing as a night in a giant LEGO piece may be, scorpions just were not cool.
Luckily, growing up in New England I never had to face the same trauma as the Szalinski kids. It wasn’t until I began traveling I had to face the reality of a world filled with these conniving barb-tailed beasts. (They are, in fact, on every landmass but Antartica) – just a fun fact for ya.
The desert is an incredible place, beautiful in the most severe ways. Immense bone kilning heat in the day, frigid teeth-chattering cold at night. Months of drought shattered by an instantaneous flood. And a horizon, in constant collision with heaven and Earth, with otherworldly colors painting a sky above an indescribable palate of earth below.
All this beauty, from the Sonoran to the Khalari and every single one has got damn scorpions. I’ve come to love the desert so I’ve forced myself to learn to live with them. If you’re on the edge, about to explore a corner of the world where there may be scorpions, number one, do it but number two check out these tips on what you should do if you encounter one of these venomous critters.
ARE ALL SCORPIONS DEADLY?
Though the scorpion behind Anty’s death was a murderous thug, there are over 1,500 species of scorpions.
Of these 1,500 only 25 are capable of a sting potentially fatal to human beings. There are 80 different species across the United States, one of which is among the lethal 25.
The Arizona Bark Scorpion can be found in the deserts of Arizona, California, and Utah but fatalities are so rare there hasn’t been a reported death in the US in over 40 years. This is especially true with the advance of anti-venom. So to be honest, yes, scorpions are lethal but when you think about it, so are bees.
IS THE SCORPION IN FRONT OF ME DANGEROUS?
Not all scorpions are dangerous (see above) and when it comes to telling which are size matters.
A good rule of thumb is, thick claws and thin tail the sting will hurt but you’ll be fine. Medium claws and a medium tail will be a bit more painful and you may need some medical attention.
The ones you want to be aware of most are the scorpions with small claws and a thick tail. Get hit by one of these guys and you’re going to want to get some help.
The bigger the tail, the deadlier they are!
I POKED IT AND IT’S PISSED, WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
You couldn’t help yourself and decided to poke your new discovery. You’ve been hit and don’t know what to do next. The experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend you first clean the wound with mild soap and water. It is important the water is clean if you’re out in the bush.
Then place a cool compress on the affected area for 10 minutes. Remove for 10 minutes, then reapply. This should help to reduce the pain and slow the venom. This is most effective in the first two hours after a sting occurs.
If you’re having difficulty swallowing, do not eat or drink anything. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Motrin IB, Children’s Motrin, or another ibuprofen to help ease any discomfort. If you have access to medical attention and you’ve been stung by a small claw thick-tailed scorpion or your condition worsens you should seek medical attention.
Scorpions do get a bad rap. Irrational opinions based on fiction, like my own, are definitely partly to blame. So here’s some logic. Scorpions are way more scared of you than you are of them.
Think about it.
If something twenty times the size of you was stomping around, you’d be a little on edge too. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid prime habitats like tree trunks and tree bases, fragmented rock filled with hiding spots and dense bush. Avoiding these also help to avoid the snakes.
Now snakes… that’s a whole other post.