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Saturday, September 14, 2013

All About Arizona - Scorpion Season

O.K., I know that most of my "All About Arizona" posts are about the beauty and advantages of living in the Sonoran Desert.  Today's post is not one of those posts.

It's scorpion season.  Actually, in my neighborhood, most of the year is scorpion season.  We live near the open desert so they are part of deal, including the ones living in your house.  This summer has been particularly bad, probably because of the recent heavy rains we have experienced.

Here's a perfect specimen.  Small, light brown with nasty front claws and the all-important curved tail.  That little stinger over its back is what gets you.  I've been fortunate - no "tags" (I prefer my term to "stings") in the 17 years we've been here.  Unfortunately, that's not the case for my family.  My husband was tagged on the hand last summer and my daughter has been tagged three times, most recently last week as she put on her shoe (it was inside the shoe).  I'm told the feeling is like stepping on a cactus needle or shard of broken glass, but that's just the beginning.  The next 4-6 hours is pretty excruciating pain which can spread over the extremity.  After that, it's about 24 hours before the numbness goes away.  Luckily no medical attention is necessary, unless there is an allergic reaction, which is rare.

In the last 12 hours I have killed three scorpions in my home.  Two were tiny, about the size of a dime. (The one below is dead.)  The tiny ones are supposedly the worst ones.

By now you're wondering why we haven't called an exterminator.  I'm not a big fan of pesticides in the house, and frankly, they have limited effect on scorpions.  As the weather cools off, we're waiting them out because they aren't around much in the fall/winter.  Also, this year I have a secret weapon:

Those stories you hear about cats being immune to scorpions - that's pretty much true.  Actually, the theory is that cats are very fast in striking and their pads are a little too thick for a stinger to penetrate.  Whatever the reason, Lulu is an awesome scorpion hunter.  She found two of the three I've seen in the last 12 hours.  Unfortunately, she's not great at killing them, mostly because she likes to play with them too much.

So it's not all perfection here in the Sonoran Desert.  There are a few pests to deal with, but I have my cat and a little time to wait them out until the most perfect time of the year rolls around.

Hopefully no one else gets tagged before then.