Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Nature: Scorpions
anatomy of a scorpionScorpions vary in size from one to four inches long. These crab-like animals are dark brown, have a broad flattened body, and ten legs. The front pair of legs is modified into claw-like pincers which are used to hold their prey. A scorpion's most noticeable feature is their curled fleshy tail.  It is usually held over their body.  The scorpion tail ends in an enlarged upturned tip that ends in a stinger. The sting is used for defense as well as for capturing prey.

Scorpion venom is a nerve poison, but the dose injected usually is not enough to kill adults. While no Florida scorpions are capable of inflicting a lethal sting, those that have had scorpion stings report that it is very painful, probably more so than a wasp sting.  Scorpions rarely sting humans except when pinned against the skin, such as under clothes or when trapped in bed sheets.  The site of the sting may be sore and swollen for some time.  An antivenin is available for severe reactions to scorpion stings.

Scorpions like to hide outside under boards, rubbish, or other areas that provide shelter and protection. They are a nuisance especially in recently built homes. These predators are active at night, and do their share to reduce pests in and around the home.  Another interesting feature about scorpions is that they glow under ultraviolet lights – so get out the black lights to help track them down.

In the home, scorpions are most likely to be found where they find their food sources: insects, spiders, or similar small animal life. Termites are suggested as the best food source for captive Florida Bark Scorpions. Be cautious when crawling under a house or up in the attic.  And taking care of these other pests will often eliminate scorpions as well.

Scorpions have a long life cycle, lasting three to five years. Males and females go through a courtship ritual prior to mating. Scorpions do not lay eggs and the young are born alive. After birth the young scorpions climb on the back of the mother and remain there until after their first molt. Scorpions will readily eat their own species and females will often eat their own young.

Florida hentz striped scorpionHentz Striped Scorpion (Centruroides hentzi)- The Hentz striped scorpion is the most common and smallest of the three species of scorpions found in Florida. The average size of this scorpion is  2-2 3/4 inches. This scorpion is found statewide, except the Florida Keys. The Hentz striped scorpion is dark brown to tan, often striped with greenish yellow along midline above. Some species have greenish-yellow parallel stripe on each side of cephalothorax.  Hentz striped scorpions have a slender abdomen that is pale or dark according to species; they also have a tooth beneath the venom bulb. Hentz Striped Scorpions live in dark crevices under bark, stones, and litter on the ground, and on dry abandoned dirt roads. Although no one is ever glad to see a scorpion in or near the home, the upside to the Hentz striped scorpion is that they love to eat cockroaches!

Florida bark scorpion or Florida slender brown scorpionFlorida Bark Scorpion (Centruroides gracilis)- The Florida bark scorpion, sometimes called the slender brown scorpion is the largest of Florida's scorpions. Adults can grow up to 4 inches long. The bark scorpion is native to the tropics of Central America, Mexico and Florida. These scorpions are nocturnal, and spend the day under logs or loose pieces of bark. They also hide under boards, or other pieces of debris, and often seem to find their way into recently built homes. They feed on termites, insects and spiders. This scorpion can inflict very a painful sting, but it is not considered as potent as some of its relatives. Some information indicates that individuals from North America are less venomous than their relatives from Central and South America.

Giana striped scorpionGuiana Striped Scorpion- The Centruroides guanensis, or the  Guiana striped scorpion is a medium sized scorpion that can only be found  around Collier, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties in Florida, and in the Bahamas and Cuba in the Caribbean. This scorpion is an opportunistic species found under stones, under barks & inside  bromeliads in vegetation ranging from arid coastal plains to tropical lowland forests. Adult Guiana striped scorpions range from 1 1/2 to 3 inches in length. This scorpions entire body is yellow with variable dusky pattern: usually there are two longitudinal dark bands over the mesosoma (almost always with a thin blackish line between them) and the legs and venter are spotted; the dusky pattern may be absent in some specimens or populations (specially coastal ones). Females mate a single first time, and then gave birth 3-4 times a year during 1-2 years. Lifespan in captivity: 2-3 yrs from birth to natural death. This scorpion has a sharp painful sting with aftereffects lasting for 1-5 hrs. 
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