Wondrous Wildlife
By Vern and Lori Gieger
Midnight Marauders

     Scorpions are members of the arachnid family (spider). They may be small, but they can strike horror in the hearts of even the most fearless.  In ancient times they where referred to as emissaries of the devil. Having been stung by a scorpion, I can relate to that intense, burning pain.
     Scorpions have existed for 425-450 million years and have had oceanic origin, eventually evolving to become completely terrestrial. Scorpions exist on all  land masses, except Antarctica. Some species can survive sub-zero temperatures for months at a time. Scorpions are not only adaptable, but resilient as well; studies have shown that high doses of radiation have little effect.
Scorpion collectors do their collecting at night; all scorpions fluoresce under a black light. Scorpions reproduce throughout the year. A female may give birth to as many as 75 scorpletes.
     Scorpletes are born two at time. They climb onto their mother’s back where she will carry them until their first molt in about two weeks. If they hang around longer than two weeks, they are likely to become scorplete soup for mom. Scorpions live from three to five years, though some species live up to 15 years. (Unless I find them in my house first.)
Scorpions are more active after dark as well as during rainy periods. Typically, scorpions ambush their prey. Although they won’t win any popularity contest, they are beneficial, consuming spiders, cockroaches, centipedes, as well as other scorpions. Although they are formidable predators, scorpions also fall prey to a variety of creatures, such as tarantulas, insectivorous lizards, birds (particularly small owls), and mammals, including shrews, bats and my cat Sam, although Sam doesn’t eat them.
     Scorpions prefer cool, dark, habitats such as wood piles, under potted plants, beneath rocks, etc. The best way to avoid getting stung by a scorpion is to use common sense. If you are working in your garden, wear gloves. Shake shoes, slippers and your work gloves out carefully before putting them on. Duh!
     In the event of a sting, don’t panic. Symptoms usually occur within five minutes and include burning pain, swelling and/or numbness at the sting site.  Applying an ice pack does help ease the pain. Others suggest applying a baking soda paste directly on the wound. The coolness of the baking soda paste compress will help relieve the pain and swelling and is alleged to draw the poison out.
     If your symptoms are more severe, such as muscle spasms, impaired vision, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting or difficulty breathing, seek out medical treatment immediately. There are 221 species of scorpions throughout Mexico; however, there are only four species in Jalisco that have venom potent enough to be dangerous to humans. Three of the four species typically occur in the coastal areas of Jalisco. However, the alacran de Michoacan, a very bad customer, is found throughout the state of Jalisco. Scorpions which have more potent venom tend to have weak-looking telsons, (pinchers) thin bodies and thick tails, as opposed to the strong, heavy looking telsons, thick bodies, and thin tails typically exhibited in less potent species of scorpions.
     When heading for that midnight snack, beware of the midnight marauder.