Michelle Ruha, MD, is a physician at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center. For more information, call the poison center at (800) 222-1222.
Question: We constantly see scorpions in our house. How dangerous are they and how can we get rid of them?
Answer: Scorpions are abundant in Arizona, but only one of the dozens of species living here has the ability to produce serious illness in those unlucky enough to receive a sting. This is the Arizona Bark Scorpion, and at about two to three inches in length, it is not especially threatening in appearance.
While most people who are stung by this creature will experience only mild pain, which resolves rather quickly, others may have tingling and numbness lasting days after the sting. Infants and young children are at greatest risk for life-threatening effects from the scorpion’s neurotoxin, and may develop restlessness, increased salivation, uncoordinated eye movements causing them to keep their eyes closed, jerking of their arms and legs and difficulty breathing. If these symptoms occur after a scorpion sting, the child should be seen in an Emergency department (ED) right away.
The Banner Poison and Drug Information Center receives thousands of calls regarding scorpion stings year-round, but summer is when scorpion activity really increases. One feature that may help distinguish the Bark Scorpion from other scorpions is that it climbs. Bark Scorpions can crawl on most all surfaces aside from glass, so placing crib legs inside of glass jars is a good way to keep scorpions from climbing into a crib. Drapes should also be secured away from a crib, as scorpions may use them to gain access.
Effective ways to keep scorpions out of your home include sealing windows and using pyrethroid insecticides, which are effective against these critters and generally safe for humans and pets. The Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, (800) 222-1222, is a great resource for information and determining if a visit to the ED is necessary.