How do I reduce the risk of scorpion stings?

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“Bark scorpion stings are on the rise, according to the Poison and Drug Information Center at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix.”

Dealing with creepy crawlies like spiders, ants and bees is a fact of life when you live in Arizona leading many residents to ask themselves, how do I reduce the risk of scorpion stings? Luckily, most of these pests are harmless — and sometimes even helpful — but there are a few that can pose risks to the health of you, your family and pets.

One of the most dangerous and venomous is the Arizona Bark Scorpion. A bite — or more accurately, a sting — from a bark scorpion is not only painful, but potentially life threatening if you don’t see immediate medical help.

The good news: You can reduce the risk and prevent bark scorpion stings if you know what to look for — and how to act quickly.

Quick Facts About Bark Scorpions

Bark scorpions, like other types of scorpions, don’t have teeth. What they do have is a fang-like stinger, located in the tail, that can pierce the skin and inject a mixture of toxins that can affect the central nervous system.

Bark scorpions are typically two- to three-inches long with two distinct parts to their bodies: The cephalothorax and abdomen, which includes the tail. It has eight jointed legs and a pair of pedipalps used to grab prey (kind of like lobster claws).

They prefer cool, dark places — like between rocks and in brush and trees — but can make their way into your home. You can spot them by their light brown to brownish-yellow color with dark lengthwise bands, but they also glow green under UV light. They’re most active in the spring, summer and fall and hibernate during the winter.

How Common Are Bark Scorpion Stings?

Bark scorpions don’t seek out people or animals to sting but will if they feel threatened, especially if you stumble into their hiding spots.

Biologist Marilyn Bloom from Arizona State University’s Scorpion Antivenin Program says you can best avoid bark scorpion stings if you “don’t put your fingers or toes where you can’t see them.”

Of course, that’s often easier said than done.

How to Spot a Bark Scorpion Sting

Bark scorpion stings can feel a lot like a spider bite, but bark scorpion sting symptoms include an immediate burning feeling or pain, a little swelling, sensitivity to touch and a numb or tingling sensation. Severe symptoms include unconsciousness, convulsions and blurry vision and should be addressed with medical treatment immediately.

When in doubt, always seek medical attention. Better safe than sorry when it comes to bark scorpion stings.

How to Minimize the Risk of Being Stung by a Bark Scorpion

Bark scorpion stings are on the rise, according to the Poison and Drug Information Center at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix. It may not be possible to completely avoid bark scorpions, but you can cut down the risk of encountering one of them — and their stings — by recognizing their favorite spots in your home.

According to a study by Banner Poison and Drug Information Center based on calls, 33 percent of scorpion sting victims were in the bedroom, 24 percent in the living room and six percent in the bathroom. Here’s 6  tips to avoid being one of the scorpion sting statistics:

  • “Scorpion-proof” your child’s crib. Bark scorpions love to climb, and baby cribs are no exception. Reduce the risk of having one climb or fall into the crib by moving it away from the wall. Also, take off any crib skirts and place the crib legs in glass jars. If you’re really worried, install crib netting over the crib — and over all of the beds in the house.
  • Always check your bed. You might be exhausted, but bark scorpions can hide within your sheets. Simply pull back your comforter and check before you hop in to reduce your risk of getting a bark scorpion sting.
  • Check your clothes before putting them on (especially your shoes!). Bark scorpions can hide in your clothes, especially if you leave them on the floor. Always shake your shoes before you put them on in case a bark scorpion snuck in there while you weren’t looking.
  • Never go outside barefoot. Going barefoot on a nice day sounds like heaven, but you could inadvertently step on a bark scorpion. Just don’t risk it!
  • Make your home inhospitable to bark scorpions. Don’t let faucets leak, or allow standing water on your property. Always put away pet dishes when they’re not being used — and don’t forget to clean up any brush or clutter outside!

 

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