Scorpions in Arizona – Most everything you wanted to know and some things you didn’t!

Scorpions in Phoenix – Our Desert Companion

If you live in Phoenix or are thinking about moving to Phoenix, you’ll have to come to terms that we share the desert with these anthropods that are reported to have been around for millions of years! The bark scorpion, the most notorious because it is the most venomous, measures 1 – 2 inches and like most scorpions is relatively inactive during the day.  Most stings occur at night during the warm summer months.  Scorpions are nocturnal, predatory creatures that feed on a variety of spiders, insects, centipedes, and other scorpions. To set your mind at ease, according  the University of Arizona, there have been no reported deaths in the U.S. due to scorpion stings. Read on to find out how to minimize contact with our infamous desert mascots.

My Own Experiment with Scorpion Control

 This summer  a couple of clients moved into their new residences and then called me for advice on how to deal with scorpions. I realized that I was unprepared on how to advise them except to say that they should consult a pest control professional because I’ve never had to deal with these cozy creatures in my house.  I came across some interesting assertions and decided they were worthy of confirmation.  The first claim described how scorpions can withstand being frozen and located close to nuclear blasts without any affects. The second assertion or  recommendation described how diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide and very effective against scorpions.

The first matter of business was to find some scorpions so that I could conduct the experiments.  A called Steve, a client who told me that with a black light we could easily find as many as I needed.  As we walked around the neighborhood with a black light,  we found some on the trunks of palm trees.  My wife was not happy that I brought them home but reluctantly agreed.  I filled a glass canning jar about 1/3 of the way and deposited one of the scorpions and quickly put it in the freezer that evening.  The next morning I removed it and let it thaw.  I don’t know if it was the freezing temperature or maybe I found out that scorpions are not good swimmers, but the scorpion was dead. Myth busted! (Based on my statistically insignifcant sample size of 1!)

The next experiment was motivated by the positive press about how food grade diatomaceous earth is an effective insecticide against scorpions.  Diatomaceous earth is consists of fossilized aquatic diatoms, whose spines cut through the exoskeleton of the scorpions causing it to dehydrate and die. It has to be food grade DE, not the kind found at a pool supply store.  I used a glass jar since scorpions can’t climb glass and put the scorpion in the jar where I had sprinkled an insecticide made with food grade diatomaceous earth, and waited.  I eagerly checked the next morning to see if it was as quick acting as the scorpion that couldn’t swim or just froze to death! It was still alive. After about a week  it was still alive but it was evident that any movement of the jar appeared to make the scorpion uncomfortable. It wasn’t until about a week and a half that the scorpion finally died.  Obviously, this is not a fast acting method. The amount of food grade diatomceous eart insecticide was high compared to what normal exposure would have been.

Getting Rid of Scorpions in Arizona

A  fundamental way of controlling scorpions is to control the environment.   Insects are scorpions food source, so control the insects and you are more likely to control the scorpions.  Here are some basic tips that will make your home and yard less attractive to scorpions.    

  • Remove wood and rock piles, stacks of wood, etc.
  • Remove all trash, debris, boards, stones, and other objects from around the home.
  • Keep grass closely mowed near the home. Prune bushes and overhanging tree branches away from the house. Tree branches can provide a path to the roof for scorpions.
  • Store garbage containers on  a frame that allows them to rest above ground level.
  • Never store  firewood inside the house.  Place it  directly on the fire.
  • Install weather-stripping around loose fitting doors and windows.
  • Plug weep holes on the outside of the home with steel wool, pieces of nylon scouring pad or small squares of screen wire.
  • Caulk around roof eaves, door frames, pipes and any other cracks into the home.
  • Window screens must be  in good repair. Make sure they fit tightly in the window frame.

Scorpion control techniques that have worked

Interestingly two of the clients that had scorpions ended up with the same treatment methods, and they have reported positive results.  They involve a do it yourself application of insecticides that have been effective in getting rid of  scorpions. * Cy-Kick CS  A multi-use insecticide for indoor and outdoor use,    Material Safety Data Sheet,   and * Delta Eight Granular Insecticide for use outside of the home.  Both of these are available at pest control stores.

If you have had scorpions and been successful eliminating them, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

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