4 Types of Scorpions You'll Encounter in Arizona

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Arizona is known for its desert scorpions, which sometimes scurry into homes when the hot summer weather hits. They also venture into homes during the cold winter months, which means that people living in dry, arid climates can have a hard time getting rid of these poisonous pests.

Scorpions are spiny arthropods whose exoskeleton resembles a shrimp shell. They are arachnids that are related to ticks, spiders and mites.

Some iterations of terrestrial scorpions have lived on Earth for 350 million years. This makes them one of the oldest animals on Earth.

Although scorpions can sting, most are harmless as the amount of venom they release is not very dangerous to humans. Fatal stings from scorpion stings are extremely rare. Scorpions use their neurotoxic venom to immobilize their prey, then crush them with their pincers.

Scorpions can be found in nearly every state in the United States, but in terms of numbers, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California have more scorpions than other states. Which 4 types of scorpions will you encounter in Arizona? We will now look at some pictures and examine the relevant details.

4 Scorpions in Arizona

These are 4 scorpions in Arizona:

  1. Arizona striped scorpion
  2. Arizona bark scorpion
  3. yellow scorpion
  4. Arizona giant hairy scorpion

1. Arizona Striped-tailed Scorpion

striped tail scorpion
Encounters of Arizona striped-tailed scorpions are common in the open desert.

© Andrew Meeds / CC BY 4.0 – License

These scorpions like to hang out under rocks and they are the most common scorpion in the state. They are one of the scorpions on our list that are commonly found in Arizona homes. They hide under rocks during the hottest part of the day and hunt for prey at night.

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They are usually about 2 inches long. Arizona striped scorpions range from sea level to higher mountains. They were medium in size compared to the other 4 scorpions found in Arizona.

They are the most common animals on the desert floor. They have a brown stripe on their tail which makes them easy to distinguish from the other 4 main species of scorpions in Arizona.

2. Arizona bark scorpion

Arizona bark scorpion climbing down tree
The venom of the Arizona bark scorpion is a major cause of concern.

©Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com

They are one of the most common scorpions in Arizona. They like to hide in the bark of trees, which is how they got their name. They also love rocky areas, and they are one of the Arizona scorpions on our list that are home invaders.

They have a long prosthetic body, which is their tail and stinger. They are usually sandy in color, but individuals at higher altitudes sometimes have stripes.

They are long and slender, with small peduncles. Pedipalps is the official term for scorpion claws. Compared to the other scorpions on our list, the bark scorpion is relatively small.

The venom of these scorpions is of concern, and they are the only medically significant scorpions in Arizona. The sting site is usually swollen and painful, and sometimes symptoms get worse. Breathing problems and muscle cramps are rare, but do happen.

There is an antivenom available and symptoms disappear within an hour and a half of taking it. If a bark scorpion stung you, seek medical attention immediately.

3. Yellow Scorpion

yellow scorpion
The yellow ground scorpion looks like a bark scorpion, but its sting is not a cause for concern.

©Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com

Yellow ground scorpions are often mistaken for Arizona bark scorpions, despite their wider tail base. As the name suggests, this is a yellow scorpion with long, thin appendages.

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These scorpions terrify many people because they have a venomous double. The venom of yellow ground scorpions is not worrisome and causes only minimal reactions.

4. Arizona giant hairy scorpion

giant hairy scorpion
In summer, the Arizona giant hairy scorpion can burrow 8 feet into the ground.

© Robb Hannawacker, while working for Joshua Tree National Park / CC BY 2.0 – License

The Arizona giant hairy scorpion is the largest and hairiest scorpion in Arizona and the United States. They grow to 6 inches long. Their metasomas and pedicles are hairy.

These scorpions eat other scorpions, small mammals, centipedes and spiders they find in cactus forests. The cactus is a uniquely armed cylindrical cactus that is a symbol of Arizona and the desert.

Arizona giant hairy scorpions are burrowing animals that burrow beneath the desert floor down to the waterline. In summer, when the waterline deepens, Arizona's giant hairy scorpions follow it. They built tunnels up to 8 feet deep.

The waterline is the same as the top of the water table. Here, in the ground, water begins to fill the cracks and gaps between the dirt and rocks. The ground there is wet all year round, but where this wetness begins depends on the surface temperature.

While this scorpion is scary, its sting only causes mild irritation and is nothing to worry about.

Why do scorpions glow under black lights?

Bright blue scorpion Centruroides gracilis glows under ultraviolet light on black background
Using a black light is a great way to hunt scorpions in the dark.

© iStock.com/alekseystemmer

Thanks to chemicals in the exoskeleton, the scorpion glows under a black light. Sometimes moonlight makes them glow too. Scientists still don't understand how this works.

Scientists also don't understand why scorpions need to glow in a certain light. Since scorpions are nocturnal, it's not in their best interest to be spotted at night. It has been suggested that it was a sunscreen, a way to confuse prey, and a way to tell if it was sunlight or not.

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Once the black light appears on a scorpion, it becomes an easy target for capture. Arizonans stalk scorpions at night in an attempt to control populations in residential areas.

Scorpions caught around houses should be moved to the open desert. They play a vital role in local ecosystems.

Are scorpions older than dinosaurs?

Yes, scorpions are older than dinosaurs. Dinosaurs appeared about 245 million years ago and went extinct 66 million years ago. Scorpions came to Earth more than 400 million years ago.

Dinosaurs became extinct in the Cretaceous extinction event, the fifth extinction event to occur on Earth. This event forced the extinction of most species on Earth. However, some small species did survive, including scorpions.

Some form of scorpion has survived all extinction events on Earth, making them one of the oldest and most durable animals on Earth. However, intense interest in scorpion venom is endangering some scorpion species worldwide.

None of the 4 species of scorpions from Arizona on our list are endangered.

can scorpions be eaten

Yes, scorpions are edible. That's why some people call them land lobsters.

They are a common street food in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand. Care is taken to properly remove the stinger from the scorpion's tail, which is often skewered and grilled.


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