Scorpions are predatory arachnids and are closely related to ticks, mites and spiders. There are approximately 50 identified species of scorpion within the United States currently, but many are only found the Southwest. It is estimated that Oklahoma is home to three to five different scorpions, however, only one species is common throughout the state.
Scorpions can be found in a wide range of sizes from a meager one-half of an inch to over seven inches in length. The species found in Oklahoma are typically around two inches in length. The small size of most scorpion species make them experts at infiltrating homes through the smallest entrances.
Because scorpions are arachnids, they all have eight legs, two pincers and a segmented tail. The tail of a scorpion is perhaps its most noticeable feature because of the bulbous stinger at the end of it. Most often, when a scorpion is seen the tail will be arched over its back.
Scorpions are predatory arthropods and rely on their phenomenal senses of sound and touch to detect and hunt prey. This is mostly due to the fact that scorpions have very poor vision. The main reason for poor vision within scorpions is their very small eyes.
Over time, scorpions have adapted to harsh, dry climates. It is uncommon to see them in areas that are extremely damp, but they do require moisture to survive. For this reason, areas that house plumbing pipes or air conditioning units are generally appealing to them.
Scorpions are nocturnal and will usually hide throughout the day. At night scorpions will become active in order to feed and mate. Throughout the day, scorpions will most often be found beneath rocks, trash cans, fallen limbs and waste piles.
Scorpions will typically enter buildings when their natural habitat is disturbed. This can cause many issues for new housing developments. When a home is being built, scorpions will begin finding their way into the structure before preventative measures can be taken.
When a scorpion is found within the home, they most often are found in crawl spaces, wall spaces and attics. When temperatures rise in the summer scorpions will begin appearing in cooler areas, such as living rooms and bedrooms where air conditioning is prevalent. This can lead to problems within the home they are infesting.
Scorpions are less likely to be seen in the winter because cold weather impedes their speed. In the event that scorpions are found within the home during winter, it is most likely attributed to them never leaving during the summer.
Scorpion food sources generally revolve around other insects. They can often also be found feeding on spiders, centipedes and occasionally other scorpions. Scorpions do not hunt for their food because of their poor eyesight. Instead, these arachnids will wait for prey to come to them and then attack.
When a scorpion feeds, they will immobilize their prey through the use of their stinger. The pincers of a scorpion crush the prey in order to make feeding easier. Scorpions typically will drain the body bodily juices of the prey they are feeding on.
In optimal conditions, scorpions have been shown to survive as long as two years with no food or water sources. With the ability to produce many young with each litter, scorpion infestation can become a real problem. As seen with any species, developmental stages and environmental factors play a role in the sustainability of scorpions.
Scorpions in Oklahoma
As previously stated it is estimated that there are three to five different scorpions within Oklahoma. However, the most commonly seen is the striped bark scorpion. This species can be found within the midsection of the United States and northern Mexico along the border.
Striped Bark Scorpion
The striped bark scorpion is a medium sized scorpion with a maximum length of around 2 ¾”. This species is characterized by its primary color of pale yellow with two dark stripes running down their body. Within the eye section, a dark triangular shape exists. Historically the striped bark scorpion has been branched into several different species, but it is incorrectly identified as minor variances exist within this species appearance.
This particular species is identified as semi-arboreal, meaning it can live within trees. However, this species is most often found exclusively under rocks, vegetation or old structures such as barns and sheds. Most often these will only be shelters during the day.
At night the striped bark scorpion will emerge from this shelter to search for food in vegetation. Juveniles are less likely to leave vegetation because of the threat from larger animals that may way to prey upon it. This particular species can be found eating insects, smaller spiders and other scorpion juveniles.
Striped bark scorpions are a very social species. This can lead to more opportunities to mate and creates competition among these scorpions. Mating habits of the striped bark scorpion are extensive and often very elaborate. The male releases a reproductive capsule that the female must be maneuvered above it. One above the capsule, the male and female will join together as the female uptakes the capsule.
In most cases, scorpions are only aggressive towards their prey. It is unlikely for a scorpion to sting a human unless they are provoked or accidentally stepped on. Unless an allergy to the venom within a scorpion is present, most humans will have minor symptoms associated with the majority of Oklahoma scorpion stings.
Stings from striped bark scorpions may also happen when individuals overturn wood or rocks with their bare hands. This can be seen most often when firewood is being moved. If firewood is not being used immediately, it is best to not bring it into the home.
The sting of a scorpion carries nearly the same pain level as seen with insects such as wasps or bees. Swelling is generally limited, but the venom that is deposited within the sting sight can cause considerable pain. Some individuals may experience numbness at the sting, but it should subside within six hours. More often than not, all symptoms associated with a scorpion sting will subside within 24 hours of the initial sting.
Scorpion stings will generally require no medical attention. However, in the case of children or elderly individuals, immediate medical attention may be necessary. The majority of severe venomous stings can be treated with an antivenin when caught early. It is important to note that the commonly found species within Oklahoma, the striped bark scorpion, is not considered lethal.
Scorpion stings can be treated very easily from the comfort of home. With most stings washing the sting site with soap and water then applying a cool compress will be sufficient. If associated pain is found, over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin or acetaminophen will help ease symptoms. In the event that symptoms worsen or more symptoms become apparent, seek immediate medical attention.
Scorpion Life Cycle
Scorpions typically will mate during the fall or early spring months. Prior to mating, scorpions undergo an intricate courtship process that may last as long as 36 hours. Once this courtship period ends, the scorpions will mate.
After successful mating, females will carry eggs for a length of five months to one year. Female scorpions can birth between 14 to 100 young within one successful litter. Unlike spiders and other arachnids, female scorpions do not lay their eggs. Scorpion young are born fully alive, yet encased within semi-transparent sacs.
Once freed from their protective egg sac, young scorpions will attach to the back of the mother scorpion. One wide misconception is that the young scorpions receive nourishment from eating the mother. Young scorpions survive on a yolk material within their bodies that maintains their nourishment during this process.
Once the young scorpions achieve their first molt, they detach from the mother’s body. By this point, the young are fully formed and capable of stinging prey. Young scorpions will leave their mother and begin hunting alone. After around one year a scorpion will reach maturity. Variances in species and the environment in which the scorpion is found, most scorpions can live up to five years.
Scorpions are notoriously difficult to control within a home. For this reason, preventative steps should be taken to ensure they don’t find a home appealing.
Fill Holes and Cracks
In most instances, scorpions will enter homes through cracks or holes that surround pipe fittings. During heavy droughts, scorpions will often enter homes in search of water. By sealing any cracks found in pipe fittings, windows or vents, scorpions will be less likely to find admittance.
It is also important to seal any imperfections within a wall that can be utilized for entry. Scorpions are adept climbers and can often be found scaling walls. For this reason, sealing vents and ceiling fixtures with steel mesh is also extremely important.
Lavender and citrus plants are often cited as natural scorpion repellents. By planting lavender or citrus plants within a flowerbed near the home, scorpions will be less inclined to venture toward it. Though planted lavender appears to be the most effective, lavender based essential oils may also be used as deterrents.
Because scorpions are fond of using plumbing lines as a form of access, cleaning these areas regularly can help deter them. In most cases, homeowners will use a citrus based cleaner because of the aforementioned aversion they have to it. However, this must be done regularly in order to maintain the scent.
Remove Hiding Spots
Scorpions can be found in nearly every terrestrial habitat. Most often they can be found within rock piles, under firewood and in heaps of compost. Many of these items are not necessary within landscaping and should be removed to deter the arrival of scorpions. However, moving them further away from the house will make a home invasion less likely.
Keeping a lawn tidy will help ensure that hiding spots for scorpions are less common. Regularly pruning bushes and cutting unnecessary overhead branches will lessen the threat of scorpions. Maintaining a normal mowing schedule is also important.
Repair Window Screens
Window screens are the first line of defense when keeping scorpions outside of a home. When there are tears within a window screen, or a window screen fits improperly, scorpions can easily access a home. Keeping window screens whole will help deter scorpion infestations.
Insecticide, though useful in the removal of scorpion infestations, in most cases won’t work alone to remove a scorpion population. It is recommended that other prevention methods be utilized to ensure the problem is controlled effectively.
Ask the Entomologist
Scorpions can regrow appendages. Most scorpion stings are slightly painful but not dangerous. Of the more than 1000 known species of scorpions, only 25 are dangerous to humans.
However, a sting from the sculptured scorpion can be fatal within hours. They have not been found in Oklahoma yet, but if you are traveling to Arizona, watch out!
Why Arrow Exterminators?
We hope this information helps you prevent scorpion infestations and keeps your home free from any type of scorpion infestation all year long. And if you see any of these creepy crawlies—or any others—in your home, give us a call or visit our website to get started on a free, no-obligation scorpion evaluation. The talented technicians at Arrow Exterminators can identify any type of pest and identify the best course of treatment to get rid of it. We’ll create a custom pest control plan to make sure we eliminate every last one from your home and keep them away for good! You can call our trained pest control experts at any time with questions about pest control methods or pest prevention techniques. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more pest prevention tips and tricks. Contact Arrow Exterminators and our scorpion control experts will get you the help you need right away. Whether it’s a private residence, dormitory, hotel or any other type of property. Arrow Exterminators has been eliminating scorpions all over Oklahoma since 1952. We know scorpion control.