Posts Tagged ‘Scorpion’

Tropicalia wildfile: Hentz striped scorpion

Scorpions creep most people out.

Maybe it’s because they’re just kind of weird, looking, like a cross between a lobster, spider and a wasp.

Movies and literature invariably portray scorpions as bad guys. Think of the 1957 sci-fi classic “The Black b,” in which giant scorpions knock trains off their tracks and eat people.

Even Shakespeare demonized scorpions: When Macbeth is going nuts after he’s killed King Duncan, he says, “O, full of scorpions is my mind.”

But Florida’s native scorpions shouldn’t scare people. Of the 90 scorpion species in the United States, four live east of the Mississippi, and none of those has a lethal sting.

Florida’s smallest and most common scorpion species, Hentz striped scorpion, occurs throughout the state, except the Lower Keys, and packs a sting that’s a little more painful than a wasp’s.

As with wasps and other stinging insects, though, some people are allergic to scorpion venom and can experience intense pain, numbness, frothing at the mouth, difficulty breathing and convulsions.

Contrary to movie lore, scorpions aren’t out looking to attack people: They usually sting when they’re trapped in a person’s clothes or sheets.

Hentz striped scorpion, which can live 5 years, grows to 2.75 inches and lives in dark crevices, under bark, rocks and litter on the ground.

It has a healthy appetite, eating insects, spiders, cockroaches, lizards, crickets and termite grubs. It grabs its prey with its pincers and kills it with its stinger.

When it comes to reproduction, scorpions are pretty cool: Males and females do what entomologists call a “courtship dance” before mating, and scorpion young are born live. A female generally gives birth to 25 to 35 babies, called scorplings.

While Florida’s native scorpions are not dangerous to humans, 50 of the world’s 1,500 scorpion species are – the world’s most dangerous scorpions live in North Africa and the Middle East, South America, India, and Mexico.

Those are the ones that were squirming around in Macbeth’s mind.