Scorpions! There are few more creatures that inspire fear more than these little guys, but there are a few things that you can do to help fortify your house and yard against them.
Facts About Scorpions that You Might Not Know
There are more than 2,000 different types of scorpions and they exist on every continent except Antarctica. They prey primarily on insects and fellow arthropods (such as spiders), as well as some small vertebrates including mice, snakes, lizards, dogs, and cats. Scorpions have adapted extremely well to harsh environments such as hot and dry deserts to the point where they can slow their metabolism so some can survive on very little oxygen and minimal food and water. However, despite their generally slow metabolism, scorpions are like a coiled spring ready to pounce when it senses food or danger.
Humans fear scorpions instinctively because they look dangerous, crawl around in the dark, and can sting. However, considering that they feed on insects that most people consider pests, some feel it is best to keep them away rather than killing them. For instance, the Florida Brown Scorpion feeds primarily on insects such as roaches and termites!
While the primary habitat of scorpions can be found in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, there are 90 different species found in the United States. Most of these are found in the desert southwest but residents of Southeastern states need to be diligent as well since scorpions live there too. This includes the Striped Bark Scorpion that is found across most South and Central United States including as far north as Nebraska and the Florida Brown Scorpion mentioned above! Luckily, neither of these scorpion species is deadly. However, the sting will hurt and cause localized swelling. These species are mostly encountered while walking around barefoot in the house, so watch out.
How Dangerous Are Scorpions?
While all scorpions are venomous, different scorpion species may be more deadly than others and even though young scorpions might be smaller - they are just as poisonous! For instance, while the Arizona Bark Scorpion can be lethal to children, elderly, and pets such as dogs and cats, the Desert Hairy Scorpion typically isn't. For those of you in states outside of Arizona, don't relax quite yet! The Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most venomous in the United States, but it can generally be found in dry climates throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and other states with similar climates.
Thankfully though, most scorpions found in the US aren't lethal, but they will sting, cause swelling, and potentially muscle spasms.
Tools To Get Rid of Scorpions
Unlike our previous guide on how to rattlesnake proof your yard, scorpions aren't going to be stopped by simply plugging holes and putting up a better fence. However, there are a few scorpion hunting tools that every homeowner needs to have.
UV Flashlight - Scorpions are typically creatures of the night and that means that you may not even know you have a problem till you take a look then. Unfortunately, that means that it's dark and those suckers are going to be really tough to find. Luckily, the scorpion bodies fluoresce under ultraviolet light. This comes from a substance on the scorpion's exoskeleton that causes it to react with UV light. Scientists think that this might be either a mechanism to help it see better in the moonlight (which contains UV rays) or it might even be a method of warning other creatures to stay away since even without your light they will glow slightly in the dark. Regardless of why it is, this makes them a lot easier for you to find.
Armed with your UV light though, you'll want to sweep it over your yard, patio area and exterior walls of your house. When illuminated they will glow brightly and be easy to pick out and ultimately kill.
Big Knife - There are two purposes for carrying a big knife. The first is to kill those scorpions you already found in your yard and second to poke in any hiding spots you might find to see if there is anything inside.
Energy and Alertness - This is going to be a job that requires you to stay up late to look for scorpions, but also be focused enough to look for details such as cracks in the foundation or gaps around windows. Luckily, you'll have some help from Rip It Energy. While it is best known for being available at military institutions around the world, Rip It Energy is now available for non-military too. This energy drink comes in 18 flavors at a price that is a fraction of the cost that other energy drinks charge. However, don't think it's some knock off! For the past decade they have been a huge supporter of our troops overseas as well as back home. As he worked with me to scorpion-proof his yard, my buddy Bill - a former Corpsman - had tons of stories about drinking it in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan where they faced even more deadly species, including the Deathstalker Scorpion. The Deathstalker is generally regarded as one of the most deadly scorpions and while it won't kill you, a sting is generally considered a medical emergency.
Check For Hiding Spots and Eliminate Them
To get rid of scorpions, your first step is to eliminate of any hiding spots where scorpions might like. This includes wood piles, landscape timbers, gaps in masonry walls, and rubbish such as trash and leaf piles. Additionally, pay close attention to any vegetation that might be touching the house or hanging over the roof and trim that back. This will make it more difficult for scorpions to reach the house and craw in through exhaust vents on your roof.
Close Any Openings to Your House
Scorpions are tiny creatures and aren't always easy to get rid of completely. Because of this, the best way to get rid of scorpions is to check your home carefully and prevent scorpions from entering in the first place! This includes checking gaps in doors and windows as well as places where the siding might have gaps. Initially, you may think your homes walls are impenetrable, but as homes settle, gaps form around windows and points where wires and pipes enter the home. Scorpions are very clever and will find those spots where they can enter your home looking for shelter, water, and food. Make sure to seal any gaps you find with caulk or weather stripping and pay close attention since scorpions can slip through even tiny openings.
Eliminate Food and Water Sources Scorpions Seek
Scorpions ultimately are drawn by three things - food, water, and shelter. In hotter months, they are also seeking an opportunity to escape the heat. Since scorpions typically feed on insects this means that you should work to keep these away from your yard and house. Luckily, this is something you probably want to do already.
Use Scorpion Spray Around the Perimeter of Your House
Outside your house, you will want to apply an insecticide that is designed to be effective on scorpions. Make sure to follow the specific directions carefully. Generally, a 3-10 foot wide zone around the perimeter of your house will be sufficient to get rid of scorpions and prevent them from entering your home. If you have a small to medium sized yard, you may want to do the same around the perimeter of your fence as well.
In areas like cracks in the wall, basements, crawl spaces, and attics you may also want to use an insecticide dust to add an extra layer of scorpion prevention.
Do a Night Search For Scorpions and Check Your Work
Before you start on the scorpion mitigation efforts above, I'd recommend doing at least one night search in your yard to see where scorpions might already be. Simply take your UV light and sweep the ground while walking around your yard and the exterior of your house as well as other structures. This will help you get a better understanding for the scorpion threat that you are facing.
After you are done filling gaps and applying the scorpion spray, make sure to do another night search for scorpions. If you are lucky, you won't find any. If not, kill what you've found and re-check the steps above, or consider calling a professional.
Educate Your Family and Guests About Scorpions
If you live in an area where scorpions are a major concern, then you will also want to educate your family and guests about the hazard. Simply wearing shoes or flip-flops while walking around and checking boots and shoes before you put them on can help eliminate most scorpion encounters. However, you will also want to teach kids what scorpions look like and what areas to avoid playing in. Even the best efforts to get rid of scorpions can't stay perfect over time so training your kids to understand the threat is essential too.
For families with dogs and cats, you'll also want to talk with your veterinarian if you are concerned about scorpions stinging them. Luckily, stings from most scorpion species will not be an emergency but your vet can advise you of an emergency clinic with experience addressing scorpion stings.
With all that work done, you deserve a cold drink! So, grab a can of Rip It Energy and take a break knowing that you are the master of the house and that you have done what you can to get rid of scorpions.