Arizona Bark Scorpion Sting: Quick Facts and Effective Treatments

The Arizona bark scorpion is a small nocturnal creature, with a maximum length of about 2.5 inches.

They are known for their tan-colored bodies and slightly darker backs, which glow a bright bluish color under UV light, making them easy to spot at night.

These scorpions are notable for their venomous stings, posing a hazard to human health.

Arizona Bark Scorpion

Arizona Bark Scorpion Sting: Some Facts

When stung by an Arizona bark scorpion, the effects can range from minimal to severe.

Some common symptoms include localized pain, numbness, and swelling at the sting site.

In more severe cases, a victim may experience difficulty breathing, muscle twitching, or even seizures.

While scorpion stings are rarely life-threatening, it is crucial to take the proper precautions and seek medical attention if necessary.

In Arizona, calls to poison control centers related to scorpion stings have been recorded over the years.

For instance, between January 2017 and December 2019, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center in Tucson received 4,398 calls about scorpion stings.

Knowing how to identify and deal with Arizona bark scorpion stings can be essential for residents and visitors to the region.

Arizona Bark Scorpion Overview

Habitat and Distribution

The Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) is a species found in the desert Southwest of the United States, particularly in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Nevada.

They also inhabit parts of northern Mexico. These scorpions often reside under rocks, logs, tree bark, and other surface objects1.

Physical Characteristics

Arizona bark scorpions are relatively small arachnids, with a maximum length of about 2.5 inches (6.4cm)2.

Their bodies are tan, and their backs are slightly darker in color. An interesting feature of these scorpions is their ability to glow a bright bluish color under UV light3.

Nocturnal Behavior

Being nocturnal creatures, Arizona bark scorpions are generally only seen at night.

Their venomous stings make them a concern for human health, however, fatalities are rare due to effective anti-venom treatments available.

Arizona Bark Scorpion
Source: David S. FloresCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Comparison Table

FeatureArizona Bark ScorpionOther Scorpion Species
Size2.5 inches (6.4cm)Varies, usually larger than bark scorpion
VenomMedically significantNot typically medically significant
GlowGlows under UV lightMay or may not glow under UV light

Sting and Venom

Symptoms of a Sting

An Arizona Bark Scorpion sting can lead to various symptoms, such as:

  • Pain and burning sensation
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Swelling at the sting site
  • Twitching muscles
  • Difficulty breathing

Additionally, some victims might experience more severe symptoms like vomiting, restlessness, sweating, drooling, and accelerated heart rate1.

People with allergic reactions to the venom could face more serious issues, including anaphylaxis2.

Severity of Venom Effects

While the Arizona Bark Scorpion, scientifically known as Centruroides exilicauda, is the most venomous scorpion in the United States3, its sting is rarely fatal for adults.

However, stings can be more dangerous for children under four years old and individuals with pre-existing health problems4.

Upon being stung, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately to minimize potential complications.

The following table compares the Arizona Bark Scorpion sting symptoms with a bee sting, which is often less harmful:

 Arizona Bark Scorpion StingBee Sting
Pain and burningYesYes
SwellingYesYes
Numbness and tinglingYesRarely
Difficulty breathingYesOnly if allergic
Muscle twitchingYesNo

Immediately after a scorpion sting, some first-aid measures can be taken to alleviate discomfort, such as:

  • Washing the sting area gently with soap and water
  • Applying a cool compress to reduce swelling
  • Keeping the affected area elevated to minimize inflammation
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, if necessary

It is essential not to apply ice to the sting area or use a tourniquet as it can worsen the symptoms5.

Treatment for the sting may include administering antivenom, also known as antivenin, to neutralize the venom’s effects6.

Arizona Bark Scorpion
Source: Andrew MeedsCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Prevention and Control

Precautionary Measures

  • Inspect footwear: Always check your shoes, and even shake them out, before putting them on to ensure no scorpions are hiding inside.
  • UV Light: Use a black light to detect scorpions at night, as they glow under this type of light.
  • Seal entry points: Regularly inspect and seal openings, cracks, and crevices in your house to prevent scorpions from entering.
  • Limit hiding spots: Keep your yard clean by removing debris, excessive lumber, or grass.

Additionally, take precautions when handling objects like rocks, logs, or tree bark, where bark scorpions might reside.

If you suspect a scorpion sting, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention, as they are venomous insects.

Scorpion Control Services

Some companies specialize in scorpion control services. They can help you with:

  • Property Inspection: Identifying potential scorpion habitats and problem areas.
  • Pest Treatment: Applying treatments to effectively reduce the scorpion population.
  • Preventive Measures: Offering guidance on preventing further infestations.

There are also natural predators of scorpions that can be introduced into your property, such as chickens or certain bird species, for added control.

When deciding whether to handle scorpion control yourself or hire a professional service, consider the following:

DIY Scorpion ControlScorpion Control Services
Pros:Pros:
– Lower cost– Experts in identifying and treating scorpions
– Hands-on involvement– Utilize effective and industry-approved methods
– Utilization of home remedies– Support for future prevention and maintenance
Cons:Cons:
– Might miss problem areas– Higher cost
– Potentially ineffective– Not as involved in the process
– Time-consuming– Service availability might be limited

Arizona Bark Scorpion Predators

Natural Predators

  • Spiders: Some spiders, like the grass spider, prey on Arizona bark scorpions.
  • Bats: The pallid bat is known to eat bark scorpions as part of its natural diet.

These predators help maintain control over scorpion populations.

Arizona Bark Scorpion
Source: Chinmayee MishraCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ecosystem Importance

Having natural predators is crucial for keeping the ecosystem balanced.

Here’s a brief comparison of the importance of spiders, and bats in relation to Arizona bark scorpions:

PredatorImportance
SpidersKeep the scorpion population in check, indirectly reducing the number of stings to humans and pets.
BatsConsume bark scorpions, contributing to the reduction of scorpion populations and promoting ecosystem balance.

In summary, both spiders and bats play a vital role in controlling the Arizona bark scorpion population and maintaining the balance within their ecosystem.

Medical Treatment

First Aid at Home

  • Keep calm to avoid accelerating heart rate and increasing blood pressure
  • Clean the sting area with soap and water
  • Apply a cold pack to reduce pain and slow venom spread (gel packs are suitable)
  • Elevate the limb if the sting is on an arm or leg
  • Restrict movement of the affected area
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication for relief

When to Seek Professional Help

Seek medical attention if:

  • Symptoms worsen or don’t improve within a few hours
  • Victim is a child, elderly person, or has a pre-existing medical condition
  • Showing signs of an allergic reaction, like difficulty breathing, swelling of face or tongue, or chest pain
  • Experiencing severe symptoms, such as uncontrollable muscle movements, accelerated heart rate, high blood pressure, or numbness

In the emergency department, professionals administer antivenom (also called antivenin) when necessary.

It’s important to note that antivenom can cause allergic reactions or anaphylaxis, so its usage is carefully considered.

In some cases, the individual may require hospitalization for monitoring and additional treatment.

Conclusion

In summary, the Arizona bark scorpion has a potent sting that can be especially dangerous for pets and young children.

Recognizing the immediate pain, swelling, and numbness these stings can cause enhances our preparedness.

By promptly seeking medical attention for severe symptoms like difficulty breathing or muscle twitching, we can tackle these encounters responsibly.

Footnotes

  1. (https://www.nps.gov/articles/bark-scorpion.htm 2
  2. (https://agriculture.az.gov/pests-pest-control/household-pests/scorpions 2
  3. (https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/nature/bark-scorpion.htm 2
  4. (https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1768-2018.pdf 2
  5. PDF Scorpions of the Desert Southwest United States – University of Arizona 
  6. Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bark Scorpion: Hentz Striped Scorpion we agree

Exiguous scorpion listings
July 28, 2009
Dear WTB,
There seems to be a mysterious lack of scorpions listed on your site (which is a great site, BTW) so thought I’d make a submission.

Not sure of the actual ID but think it is a Hentz Striped Scorpion (Centruroides hentzi). The picture was taken just before I hit it with my shoe. Just joking! Don’t want to end up on your Unnecessary Carnage page.

This was found on a coworker’s bedroom wall one night several months ago right under the light switch. It miraculously was not squished, but brought in to us for identification.

It is residing in Critter City for the moment until a positive ID can be achieved.
KICA Maint
Kiawah Island, SC

Hentz Striped Scorpion
Hentz Striped Scorpion

Dear KICA Maint,
We agree on two counts.  Yes, there is a noticeable dearth of scorpions on our website.  Perhaps some older postings were lost in the site migration last September.
We cannot recall posting any scorpions since that time. 

Part of the problem probably resides with our editing of letters.  Much of our editing is unintentional because we are unable to read all of our mail.  We gravitate to subject lines that catch our attention, and some days we are able to devote more time and post more letters than other days when we are too busy conducting our lives. 

On the second count, we agree that this appears to be a Hentz Striped Scorpion, though we are far from experts on the topic.  According to BugGuide, the Hentz Striped Scorpion is found in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  Your sighting may be normal range expansion since it is not far from the typical range.

The genus Centruroides is in the family Buthidae.  Here is what BugGuide has to say about the family:  “The family Buthidae is the largest scorpion family with over 50 genera and over 600 species worldwide.  Of the known 25 (or so) species of dangerous scorpions, only one species is NOT in the family Buthidae (it’s Hemiscorpius lepturus, in the family Hemiscorpiidae, and it has a highly virulent haemotoxin). 

Dangerous buthids are in the genera Centruroides (North America and Mexico), Tityus (South America), and Androctonus, Parabuthus, Leiurus, Mesobuthus, and Hottentotta in the Old World.  Oddly, with all the deadly animals in Australia, none of the buthids there are known to be dangerous.”  Thanks for your submission.

Hentz Striped Scorpion
Hentz Striped Scorpion

Letter 2 – Bark Scorpion after bug bombing

Drugged Bark Scorpions?
Location: Arizona
August 19, 2011 2:54 pm
We had our house bug-bombed for crickets about a month ago. Since then we’ve had 2 bark scorpions turn up that aren’t dead but don’t act like normal scorpions. I found one on the floor and another one a few weeks later on my stove as I was going to wipe up after a meal. In both cases the scorpion lay limp and looking dead until touched.

When I clamped them with the tongs they put up a good fight, stinging and all. But neither tried to run or even moved at all when there was motion near them. The guy on the stove had been under a paper towel and when it was lifted he didn’t even run.


It’s my understanding that bug poison doesn’t kill scorpions but it seems like it’s doing something to them. Or am I wrong? I’ve only seen one other bark scorpion before and it ran all over the place when it was outed. I thought they were all like that. What’s your take?
Signature: Cyn

Bark Scorpion

Hi Cyn,
We are sorry, but we really don’t know much about the content of the poisons used in bug bombs, nor their effect on Scorpions.  A month seems like quite some time to pass between the bug bombing and the effects on this Bark Scorpion.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

2 thoughts on “Arizona Bark Scorpion Sting: Quick Facts and Effective Treatments”

  1. Hello
    glad to know that someone else has seen this before. i saw one against the wall recently in my washroom. i really took time to appreciate that it was a scorpion, since this is Kigali, how in the world would there be a scorpion, u know ! anyway, despite not having bug-bombed, this small thing only flushed movement when tapped then immobiled again.i had time to really look at while it just still against the wall.

    Reply
  2. Hello
    glad to know that someone else has seen this before. i saw one against the wall recently in my washroom. i really took time to appreciate that it was a scorpion, since this is Kigali, how in the world would there be a scorpion, u know ! anyway, despite not having bug-bombed, this small thing only flushed movement when tapped then immobiled again.i had time to really look at while it just still against the wall.

    Reply

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