There are over 1,500 known species of scorpion across the world, of which about 20 live in Texas. Only only of these species is commonly found in East Texas, the striped bark scorpion, and it does live in Houston.
The striped bark scorpion is a medium-sized scorpion, usually around 2 1/2 inches in length. These scorpions are pale yellow color with two broad, darker-colored bands crossing the back and a dark triangular patch near the head.
Despite the image of scorpions as desert animals, striped bark scorpions prefer cool, moist environments. The striped bark scorpion’s behavior is primarily motivated by a need to conserve the water in its body. Warm sunlight will evaporate their body water and kill them quickly. Because of this, they are almost exclusively nocturnal. They will tend to stay in cracks, crevices, and dark places, particularly where this is moisture to be found.
The striped bark scorpion’s sting is very rarely fatal, but is is incredibly painful and can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms such as swelling, muscle spasms, and difficulty breathing. Anyone allergic to bee stings or an any way susceptible to anaphylactic shock should be particularly careful to avoid scorpions. If you are stung by a scorpion, get to a hospital immediately.
Dealing With Scorpions in Your Houston Home
With summer temperatures comes an increased chance that a scorpion may decide that your home is a great place to hide. Scorpions are not uncommon in Houston, and they deliver a painful sting when surprised. Learn more about Houston’s scorpions, the places they like to hide, the methods to avoid a sting, and the ways you can discourage them from moving into your home.
While Texas is home to many species of scorpions, only one species is common in Houston: the striped bark scorpion. Unlike many other species of scorpion, this one does not prefer hot, dry environments. Instead, striped bark scorpions like to live in cool, wet, and dark areas. This species is also nocturnal, which means they are rarely active during the day.
Scorpions, in general, will seek shade during the hot day, especially the striped bark scorpion. These types of scorpions carry a lot of moisture in their bodies and will dry out with too much sunlight.
As a result, striped bark scorpions look for a quick and easy hiding space that both keeps them cool, yet protects them from their many predators. They seek out places with easy access to insects and areas where little activity exists from humans and pets at night.
An Overview of Scorpions
Contrary to popular belief, scorpions aren’t insects. They’re predatory arachnids that have eight jointed legs and up to six eyes. They use the stinger on the end of their segmented tails to deliver painful blows. Their large claws help them grasp and crush their prey. Some species can live for 25 years.
Scorpions can climb trees and crawl along branches to gain access to your home’s exterior walls and roof. They get inside through small cracks and crevices, where they could build a nest in your attic. When hot weather comes, they move into the lower levels of your home to stay cool.
Since scorpions are most active at night, you might only come across them when it’s dark. Because of that, it’ll probably see you before you see it and strike if it feels threatened.
Among the more than 1,500 scorpion species in the world, only a few have venomous stings that are deadly. In Houston, the sting from a striped bark scorpion is usually just painful. However, people who have a sensitivity to scorpion venom could have a life-threatening reaction.
Signs and symptoms at the site of a scorpion sting may include:
- Pain, which can be intense
- Numbness and tingling
- Slight swelling
Signs and symptoms related to widespread (systemic) venom effects usually occur in children who are stung and may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle twitching or thrashing
- Unusual head, neck and eye movements
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Accelerated heart rate (tachycardia)
- Restlessness or excitability, or inconsolable crying in children
As with other stinging insects, such as bees and wasps, it is possible for people who have previously been stung by scorpions to have allergic reactions with subsequent stings. Reactions to these subsequent stings are sometimes severe enough to cause a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms in these cases are similar to those of anaphylaxis caused by bee stings and can include hives, trouble breathing, and nausea and vomiting.
FACTS ABOUT SCORPIONS AND TIPS TO PREVENT THEM
Most scorpions in the U.S. are found in the Southwest regions. They come in many sizes and colors, but are usually pale gold or tan and do not grow larger than a few inches long. They are commonly found in newer homes, especially ones built on the outskirts of metropolitan areas. Vegetation around these homes is typically less developed than established neighborhoods. Also, scorpion’s habitats are often disturbed during new construction, so their search for new shelter can drive them into your home.
To help avoid encounters with scorpions in and around your home follow these prevention tips:
- Eliminate standing water
- Seal cracks and crevices, especially around doors and windows where they can gain access to your home
- Inspect cabinets, closets, and other dark places on a regular basis
- Clear away brush, debris, and woodpiles from the perimeter of your home. Keep firewood about 30 feet away
- Scorpions feed on other insects such as crickets. You can help eliminate crickets by turning outdoor lights off at night