What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Scorpion floresence
Location: Naches, WA
November 2, 2010 1:18 pm
Thought you should have some pictures of scorpion florescence under UV. I was surprised that these scorpions are fairly common on rocky arid ground around Yakima in Eastern Washington. Don’t know the exact species or the sting hazard, but it seems like a big tail, smallish pincher. Around 1.75 inches with tail.
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Signature: Paul Huffman, President-for-Life, Moclips Surf Club

Northern Scorpion under Black Light

Hi Paul,
Thanks for your wonderful image of a Scorpion glowing under black light.  We suspect it is the Northern Scorpion,
Paruroctonus boreus, which we determined upon locating a website with images of the Northern Scorpions photographed in Washington.  ENature has some information on the species, including:  “Most scorpions are not dangerous and do not attack people. If disturbed, they will inflict a sting that can cause painful swelling, but the poison of most North American species is not lethal to people.”  According to BugGuide, it is:  “Highly variable throughout its range, and depending on habitat. Throughout much of its range it is the only scorpion found. It has the basic identifiers of Paruroctonus scorpions, such as relatively robust hands and a somewhat slender metasoma/tail in which the keels do not terminate in an enlarged denticle. In most areas it is pale, light brown. In volcanic habitats it can be quite dark with a striped tail.”  According to AnswerBag:  “All scorpions glow in the dark—even after death, even fossilized! A thin, transparent film (hyaline) in the outermost layer (cuticle) of their exoskeleton contains a protein that fluoresces. At night in the Arizona desert, you can see scorpions within a 20-foot radius by shining a black (ultraviolet) light around. They glow bright green-blue or green-yellow like scorpion jewels.  Newly molted scorpions don’t fluoresce. As the cuticle hardens, it glows more. The hylane skin toughens into an incredible substance. After hundreds of millions of years, after all other cuticle layers are lost, the hyaline layer remains, fossilized in rocks. It still glows.   We don’t know why scorpions fluoresce. Maybe it helps the antisocial creatures locate each other in the dark and either stay away (usually) or find a mate. Scorpions hunt at night and gladly eat fellow scorpions. In fact, mating is an extremely dangerous activity (to the smaller, usually male, partner).”  The reasons Scorpions glow under black light is not fully understood, and this is an excellent posting for us to tag as a Mystery.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

3 Responses to Northern Scorpion Glows under Black Light

  1. MajorGeek says:

    Central Washington University has a couple of old specimens pinned in a display case. They still had UV florescence.

  2. Dave says:

    Yes, Virginia, you can eat scorpions.
    I’ve had at least three species, and they’re both served to the public more or less frequently, as bugs go. Hotlix seals a Chinese species (Mesobuthes martensi) in candy; David George Gordon serves Desert Hairy Scorpions; and various folks, myself included, have cooked/served the impressive Emperor scorpions.
    Granted, they’re not the tastiest bugs out there, but in a pinch….

    Dave
    http://www.smallstockfoods.com

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