prefer the hot climate but some species survive cold winters in the mountains
or in moderate regions. Also, they may be often seen in the houses, there
is even an African saying: “A scorpion in the shoe early in the morning.”
body consists of 18 segments and is usually 5-10cm long but some species
(especially Pandinus imperator) can reach a length of about 20-30cm.
The sting or stinger, also called a telson, is located at the very end
of the post-abdomen of the scorpion. A pair of glandular sacs produces
and stores the various components of the scorpion’s venom. Scorpions use
their stings for a variety of purposes: in prey capture, in defense and
during mating. Scorpion’s time of activity is the night. They feed only
on living creatures: spiders, insects, larvae, sometimes even small lizards
All species of scorpions
are poisonous for their preys (mostly insects, for which they are always
deadly) but a very small number of the over 1050 known species can be dangerous
to humans. The scorpion’s venom is comprised of a variety of compounds,
most of which have not been investigated. The venom from a single scorpion
may include several neurotoxins, histamine, serotonin, enzymes, enzyme
inhibitors, and other unidentified compounds. Each neurotoxin is believed
to target specific kind of animals.
onset of the local reaction of the human poisoning is immediate. Intense
pain normally subsides within one hour giving way to numbness, tenderness,
and tingling at the site of the sting.
Later can occur pain that
radiates towards the body, agitation or anxiety, increased body temperature,
swelling of the face, tongue and throat, pain or tightness in the chest
Some scorpion species (Pandinum
imperator, Leiurus quinquestriatus, Buthus occitanus,
Androctonus australis, etc.) are capable of injecting relatively
large quantities of highly toxic venom. In these cases the poisoning leads
to fever, excessive salivation, involuntary tearing, nausea or vomiting,
confusion, coma, convulsions, increased or decreased heart rate, body temperature
disregulation, and pulmonary edema (wet lungs). There may be expected a
lethal end due to heart or respiratory failure.
However, one should remember
that the victim’s chances of actually dying, even from a highly venomous
species, are relatively small. The primary risk factors appear to be the
the toxicity of the venom of
the scorpion involved;
the quantity of the venom injected
(this is voluntarily regulated by the animal);
the size of the victim and
the general medical condition
of the victim. In many countries in those severe cases is used scorpion
antivenin. Unfortunately, children, because of their small size, are at
greater risk of more severe envenomation than the adults.
Anyway, in case of an accident,
the best you can do is to transport the patient to an emergency medical
facility as soon as possible. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center
also recommend cleaning the site with soap and water, cool compress, elevation
of the affected limb to approximately heart level, and an analgesic as
needed for minor discomfort.
Be careful in areas known to
be swarming with scorpions and in places you cannot see well!
Remember, if you find one scorpion,
there are many other around.
Check your boots, clothing,
and bedding for scorpions.
Spray all parts of the housing
There are many home-remedies
and homeopathic treatments for scorpion envenomation. Most are probably
not harmful but probably don’t help either. Occasionally, certain plants
are believed to have curative powers. Parts of these plants may be applied
to the wound, eaten, or worn around the neck. Scorpions are sometimes placed
into a variety of oils, which may then be used as antidotes for envenomations.
It is common in some places to drink a “tea” made from the offending scorpion.
In other areas, the scorpion is eaten, either cooked or raw. I have even
read of customs in which the scorpion’s stinger is removed and “surgically”
implanted beneath the skin of the victim. This treatment seems ill advised.
Since the remote past scorpions
have always been objects of disgust, mystical fear, and horrifying legends.
They take part in the ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology, in the scripts
of the medieval alchemists, in the astrology and in the typical fauna of
the Christians hell. Scorpions are believed to be capable of committing
suicide by stinging themselves in order to avoid an agonizing death. This
is not true, of course, (they don’t sting themselves at all) but scorpions
are really able to fall into a deep numbness or a fictitious death. In
that condition they really may die without feeling anything but also they
can “resurrect” after the danger has disappeared. And some people still
believe that scorpions appear in the night looking for a sleeping person
to sting. In the lands inhabited by many scorpions, these insects are common
night visitors of the humans’ homes and even beds but this is not a special
hunt for people.
Although most of the myths
about scorpions have already been dispelled, these creatures are still
intriguing and exciting.