The Arizona Bark Scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) is a tiny scorpion found in, well, Arizona (though it also occurs in other states of the American Southwest as well as Northern Mexico). It lives in the Sonoran desert and is mostly active at night when it hunts crickets, beetles, and other small insects which it ambushes from a dug out burrow. This little guy only reaches a maximum length of about three inches and is very light brown in color. During the day, it hides in the shade or buries itself in sand to avoid the sunlight. It’s often found under rocks, in crevices, bark, leaf litter, and can sometimes find its way into dark places in houses or shoes. During the winter, many bark scorpions will come together to form packs. This is extremely unusual as almost all other species of scorpion are strictly solitary.
As with all scorpions, the Arizona bark scorpion fluoresces when exposed to ultra violet light. They are easy to locate wandering around at night in the desert because of this.
Bark scorpions live for about six years and are sexually mature after one. Females give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. The baby scorpions are exact miniatures of the adult and stay with the mother scorpion, riding around on her back, until their first molt. Litter sizes can range from twenty five to thirty five babies.
This scorpion is not generally aggressive, but it will become so if it feels threatened as with any wild animal. Its first instinct is to get away, but if that fails, it can deliver a sting that is very painful and can be quite dangerous. Although not normally fatal, stings can lead to temporary paralysis and possibly convulsions on whatever portion of the body was stung. The Arizona bark is the most venomous scorpion in North America and stings should always be treated as a medical emergency and receive adequate medical attention. Stings have been described by victims as feeling like continuous jolts of electricity after envenomation. Luckily, this is such a common species that antivenom is widely available to people who get stung.
If you ever happen to run across an Arizona bark scorpion, don’t mess with it or kill it, just whip out your black light (which I’m sure all of you have and carry around with you at all times, right?), stand back and enjoy it. Scorpions are very interesting and unique arachnids and should be treated with the respect they deserve.
1.McWest, Kari J. “Centruroides Sculpturatus.” Species Centruroides Sculpturatus. Iowa State University Department of Entomology, 26 Mar. 2006. Web. 02 May 2015. .
2.”Arizona Bark Scorpion.” Scorpion Facts and Information. Bio Expedition, 2013. Web. 02 May 2015. .
3.Curry, Steven C., et al. “Envenomation by the scorpion Centruroides sculpturatus.” Clinical Toxicology 21.4-5 (1983): 417-449.
4.Gaffin, Douglas D., et al. “Scorpion fluorescence and reaction to light.” Animal Behaviour 83.2 (2012): 429-436.