Weather in the western United States has been unusually challenging recently. Much of the west has been scorched by a heat wave.
But in southern Utah around the city of St. George the problem has been very different and has eight legs.
Scorpions seem to be everywhere. According to the St. George News there are four reasons residents are encountering the creatures. One is monsoonal rains in the area which flush them out from their underground burrows. Another is mating season, which sets them to wandering in search of romance. A third is the fact that as St. George expands people move into scorpion territory. This is a pattern seen with human expansion around the world. As people move in bringing water and leftovers to the area, many creatures are attracted to our wastes. This leads to the fourth reason, insects seeking water and human food or garbage bring scorpions which hang out near houses to eat the insects.
Utah has up to a dozen species of scorpions in its borders and three or four are the most common. Most are considered nuisances to humans and not particularly dangerous. The exception is the Arizona bark scorpion, which has deadly venom. Encounters with these scorpions sometimes proved fatal in the past. Advances in anti-venin development mean that only two people have died from their sting in the last 50 years. Thousands of people are stung annually, the paper said. The stings are quite painful and symptoms can last a few days.
So what to do?
Be aware at night as that is when the creatures come out to eat. They will eat anything they can overpower or sting with a special fondness for crickets. They have many enemies, including lizards, bats, spiders, hawks, owls and even mice. The southern grasshopper mouse kills and eats scorpions on a regular basis. Scorpions also eat each other so they have to be pretty wary. In turn the scorpion poses risks to pets including dogs and cats.
One trick is to get a readily available black light. Scorpions are fluorescent so they glow under black light, a handy way to spot them at night. One place to go and see scorpions safely is the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, which has several on display,.
Scorpions are related to spiders, but do not produce silk or build webs.