- Desert denizens -

Summary: Scorpions are related to spiders but have crab-like pincers and a long tail with a stinger on the end. Scorpions look like a cross between a spider and a crab, with a stinger like a yellowjacket wasp!

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Scorpions [pictures of scorpions] are related to spiders and mites but belong to their own order, Scorpiones. They are eight-legged with crab-like pincer appendages on the front end and the scorpion's tail is usually elongated and terminated by a venomous stinger.

Scorpions use their stinger to subdue prey and for self defense. Some scorpions can deliver a deadly venom when they sting, while in others the venom and sting are no worse than that of a wasp. Highly venomous species occur in northern Africa, the Middle East, South Africa, east Africa, South America and one species in the southwestern US (Centruroides). Antivenom (antivenin) is available for many of the most venomous species worldwide.

Scorpions hunt at night. During hot days they may wander into houses in search of shade and water. They are most often encountered outdoors under loose debris of one sort or another. Gardeners should protect their hands with work gloves especially around wood or debris piles.

Compared to many other dangerous insects and spiders, scorpions are pretty far down most people's priority list unless you happen to live in an area where they are common. For this reason there are no standard reference books devoted entirely to scorpion biology. Your best option may be to simply google your region or state name + "scorpion".

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Jack DeAngelis, Ph.D.

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