We found several bark scorpions in our Arizona yard but this is the first time we found a Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis. This giant scorpion is the largest scorpion in the United States.
Scorpions are related to spiders, ticks, mites, etc… They are venomous arthropods in the class Arachnida. Scorpions have over 1,300 species throughout the world. They have four pairs of legs and pedipalps with plier-like pincers on the end.
Three species of scorpions are commonly found in the Arizona Desert:
- Small Bark Scorpion, Centruroides exilicauda
- Striped Tail or Devil’s Scorpion, Vaejovis spinigerus
- Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis
Arizona is home to more than 30 species of scorpions but the only truly “life threatening” one is the small Bark Scorpion. Unlike the other species, Bark Scorpions like to climb.
Scorpions have mouthparts called chelicerae that enable it to rip and tear its prey while feeding. They have a sensitive antennae along with the pincer-like pedipalps that are used to hold the prey while inflicting venom or eating. The Scorpion’s body has two main parts; the cephalothorax and the abdomen.
According to the book Scorpions: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, in order to measure a scorpion; start from the tip of the telson, stinger, to the prosoma, head. Our Arizona scorpion was just over 5 inches! Giant Hairy Scorpions have a dark back.
The metasoma (tail) of the scorpion is actually an extension of the abdomen. It consists of five segments, each one longer than the last; at the tip is the telson (stinger).
All Scorpions are nocturnal and leave their shelters at night in search for prey. A Giant Hairy Scorpion burrows deep in the desert soil. This large scorpion follows the moisture level in the soil and can burrow as far as 8 feet below the surface!
Scorpion burrows are commonly oval or crescent-shaped.
Although this scorpion is very large, the sting is somewhat mild and feels similar to a bee sting. The sting is not life threatening. If by some chance you experience an allergic reaction to a Giant Hairy Scorpion sting, seek medical attention immediately.
Scorpions give birth to live young during the summer months and the babies safely ride on mom until their first molt, approximately 2-3 weeks.
If you really want to observe these ancient nocturnal arachnids, take a black light to the desert on a moonless, warm night. In the dark you will be able to see scorpions dig burrows, capture prey and possibly witness a unique mating ritual.
How do we try to keep our home scorpion free? By keeping our windows and doors closed! When opening a door in the desert, make it a habit to look at the bottom. It is known that scorpions have poor eyesight and tend to walk along walls. Glue boards placed by doors and windows are good ways to catch scorpions inside the home. Bark Scorpions are smaller and more common in homes. Bark Scorpion stings can be fatal so we have a contract with Truly Nolen that helps to keep our home safe.