Temperatures may still be scorching at 110 degrees or more, but with the official start of monsoon season just days old, Southern Arizonans have another thing to worry about: scorpions.
While bark scorpions, a common species in Southern Arizona, can be found year-round, monsoon season’s increased cloud cover and higher humidity means more scorpions will be out and about, according to Banner Health.
Scorpions are more active during monsoon season because there are more bugs for them to hunt in humid weather, and the cooler temperatures allow them to travel greater distances, according to Dr. Daniel Brooks, director of Banner Poison and Drug Information Center
“It’s nothing really scientific. It’s just more about the behavior of not only scorpions but humans,” Brooks said.
Just like scorpions, as temperatures decrease, people will naturally venture outdoors more to take advantage of better weather conditions, Brooks said. The more often people are outdoors, the more likely it is they will encounter a scorpion.
Bark scorpions are about 2-3 inches in size and are able to climb walls, and they are attracted to small spaces and moist areas, meaning they can make it inside homes, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s animal fact sheet.
A sting from a scorpion can be painful. Most people who are stung by scorpions have only localized effects, including pain, numbness or tingling, Brooks said. But about 5% of the population will experience pain in a wider area from the site of the sting.
While rare, there are cases where people will have more extreme reactions, including having trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing or excessive secretions coming from the sting site, Brooks said.
These reactions can be fatal, but with treatment, the venom’s effects can be greatly reduced, according to Banner Health.
According to Brooks, young children, particularly those under the age of 3, are the most at risk of a dangerous reaction, so parents should be especially vigilant.
“We just recommend people just be aware of their environments, you know, look around, and especially if you have a newborn kid at home,” Brooks said.
Banner Health recommends if one is stung to rinse the site under cool water and wash it with soap and then call Banner’s poison center at (800) 222-1222 for further medical advice.
In dogs, a bark scorpion’s sting won’t inject enough venom to endanger their lives, although it will still likely be very uncomfortable, according to the Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center website. The center recommends if a pet owner suspects their dog has been stung that they go to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
To reduce the risk of being stung by a scorpion, Brooks recommended shoes be kept indoors and people check potted plants they bring into their homes, which a scorpion may have made its home. Banner Health also advised that people shake out clothing items before putting them on, check their bed before getting into it and move furniture away from the walls.
Bark scorpions also glow green in ultraviolet light, according to the Desert Museum website, so they are easy to spot with a black light.
Tucsonans should also look out for rattlesnakes who, like scorpions, will be out on the hunt more frequently in cooler and moister weather, Brooks said.