You may have seen it before, scuttling across the ground with its arched, sharp tail distinctively hanging in the air. It’s quite possible you have even seen one or two of these pests in your own home. Scorpions are quite prevalent in Arizona, especially during this time of year when our “Monsoon” means that the Valley’s humidity levels are their yearly high. Along with the 55 other species of scorpions found in Arizona, our desert is home to one of the only poisonous varieties of scorpions in the area, the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpuratus), the most venomous scorpion in North America.

It then may not come as a surprise that scorpions have become one of the most common pest complaints among area homeowners. The best way to avoid making a pest control call is to first, know how to identify the bark scorpion, and second, become knowledgeable on simple ways that will allow you to make your home less attractive to these creatures.

Identifying the bark scorpion: The bark scorpion is usually small, measuring only between 2 to 3 inches long. They are usually light tan in color, which allows them to blend into the native desert environment. These scorpions are mainly active during the night. Unlike other scorpions, they are good climbers and can be found on walls, ceilings, and even curtains. Also unlike other scorpion species, bark scorpions congregate with other bark scorpions in the winter.

Preventing scorpion infestation in your home: Completing a simple walk through around your home to areas that are attractive to bark scorpions could be the answer that saves you money on future hospital trips to treat scorpion stings. Scorpions actually live for three to seven years, and if they’re not actively controlled, their population will grow and get out of hand quickly.

Here’s what to look for:

• Check to make sure weather stripping around doors and windows are sealed properly. If they’re worn, replace it.

• Keep objects that could be hiding places for scorpions, like boxes, pool toys and other containers away from your house and off the ground.

• Remove any leaf litter or other debris surrounding your home.

• Move potted plants away from home entrances and be careful not to overwater them.

• Avoid overgrown vegetation near house.

• Steer clear of river rock and palm trees.

• Watch for leaky faucets or standing water.

• Keep tree limbs that hang over roofing trimmed back away from roofline.

• Trim surrounding bushes six inches back from your home.

Scorpion stings

Most scorpion stings pose little danger, and the use of common painkillers is sufficient to relieve minor localized swelling and pain. The stings from the bark scorpion, however, can indeed cause some serious effects, including burning pain in the area stung, numbness and tingling in other areas of the body, difficulty swallowing and excessive drooling, slurred speech, muscle twitching and respiratory problems.

While the medical experts at Banner Health agree that serious health complications from bark scorpion stings are rare, individuals exhibiting serious symptoms or allergic reactions should seek immediate attention from your health care professional. People with impaired immune systems should also seek immediate medical attention.

While most species of scorpions pose little danger to humans, there are some risks posed by a few, especially the bark scorpion. However, by taking proper measures, you can reduce the likelihood of coming face to face with Arizona’s most infamous pest. When in doubt, a thorough scorpion treatment from a professional exterminator is highly recommended, treating the full perimeter of your home targeting scorpions where they nest and breed, including block walls, which are a very common nesting site for scorpions.

• Curtis Whalen and Nate Woolf are the co-founders of Blue Sky Pest Control.

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