SAN ANTONIO -- You and your family are probably looking for cool places to escape the heat during this long, hot Texas summer. But you aren't the only ones.
“There have been a lot of calls coming into the office recently from residents of San Antonio and from surrounding counties about scorpions,” said Molly Keck, Texas AA&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, Bexar County.
Scorpions, who Keck says, don’t seem to like very cold or very hot temperatures, may be roaming around searching for water and a cooler place to hang out. Keck says scorpions can usually be found under rocks, paving stones, logs or landscaping materials — or hiding in wood piles or inside the home.
“We’ve had two or three wetter, more moderate summers in a row, but this year we’re getting more of the weather people tend to expect when they think of summer in southern and central parts of Texas,” Keck said.
Scorpions usually hide during the day and get active at night, according to Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension Service entomologist in Travis County. She says she's not surprised by the increase in calls relating to scorpions.
“This behavior helps them manage temperature and water balance, which are important functions for survival in dry habitats, Brown said. “Their bodies are flat, which allows them to hide in small cracks and under stones, bark, wood or other objects as they wait or search for prey.”
Texas has 18 species of scorpions, but only the striped bark scorpion occurs throughout the state and is the most common species in Central Texas, Brown explained.
“This scorpion is yellowish-tan with two dark stripes that run along the back,” she said. “Striped bark scorpions can get up to 2 1/2 inches in length.”
According to Brown, the striped bark scorpions are capable of stinging, but the sting typically only causes moderate reactions.
“Usually it’s sufficient to apply ice packs on the area where the sting occurred to reduce pain and swelling,” she said. “But the severity of the sting is dependent upon the individual scorpion and the person’s reaction to the venom. A person stung by a scorpion should be watched closely for several hours following the incident to ensure an allergic reaction does not manifest. If breathing becomes difficult or hives occur, seek immediate medical attention.”
When working outside, wear leather gloves to avoid being stung, Brown noted.
Keck and Brown noted the best defense against scorpions is exclusion and offered the following tips for keeping scorpions from getting into a home:
If scorpions are found, the entomologists suggest applying pesticides around the foundation of the house and up to one foot above ground level on the exterior walls. They also suggest applying pesticides around doors, windows, eaves and other potential points of entry. Indoor treatments should be directed at potential points of entry as well as corners, cracks and crevices where scorpions can hide. Follow label directions for dosage, mixing and application methods.