Discover the Most Venomous Scorpion in the World

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: May 5, 2023
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Scorpions are arthropods that vary in size and color, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. These creatures use their venom to disable prey before consuming it. While most scorpions deliver a venom that is not capable of doing serious harm to humans, some species can kill humans with their potent venom. Take a look at the most venomous scorpion in the world to see where it lives and how much of a danger it poses to people.

Where Do Scorpions Live?

Highly venomous Indian red scorpion (Hottentotta tamulus) on sand
Scorpions are found throughout most of the world.

©Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com

Even though scorpions have a near-cosmopolitan distribution, many people still do not interact with them on a regular basis. While many species tend to live in warm and dry climates, they can be found in grasslands and rainforests as well.

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So, even though scorpions are found in some parts of the United States, for example, they’re exceedingly rare in the northeastern part of the country. It is wise to know which species live in one’s area for safety’s sake.

How Do Scorpions Envenomate Other Animals?

Scorpions use a stinger on the end of their tail
Scorpions use a stinger on the end of their tail to envenomate creatures.

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Scorpions envenomate animals by stabbing them with a stinger on the end of their tails. Looking at these arthropods, three structures stand out. The creatures have two pincers, one at the end of each arm. These are used to grab, hold, or crush prey. While they’re holding prey, scorpions will often sting them.

The stinger is the most dangerous part of the creature’s anatomy. Scorpions’ long tails curl up and over their bodies, and they end in a large bulb and a stinger, a structure called a telson. The sharp stinger can easily plunge into the bodies of a scorpion’s prey or even larger creatures that are threatening them.

Once the scorpion jabs their prey, they inject the venom and wait for it to disable or kill the other creature. Some scorpions have relatively weak venom that is suited to taking down small prey. However, some scorpions have developed incredibly potent venom that can disable or kill animals much larger than themselves, including humans.

Can Scorpions Kill Humans?

Scorpion sting
Stings can cause pain and significant medical issues, including death.

©RHJPhtotos/Shutterstock.com

Yes, some species of scorpions have venom that is potent enough to kill humans or they inject so much venom that it can kill humans. However, fatal scorpion stings typically affect young children and elderly people the most. Healthy adults can usually survive most scorpion stings.

Roughly 2,000 species of scorpions have been identified throughout the world. About 25 of them are considered dangerous to humans, and most of them belong to the Buthidae family. However, other scorpion families are capable of delivering a medically significant sting as well.  

The most venomous scorpions use potent neurotoxins that disrupt the neurological and nerve functions of the victims. Humans that are stung by scorpions will develop a progression of medical issues over the course of minutes or hours.

Sometimes, a sting causes pain and leaves redness in the affected area. However, serious stings can cause symptoms like nausea, sweating, vomiting, unconsciousness, respiratory failure, and heart failure.

Again, deaths from scorpion stings are uncommon, but they are possible. That is especially true with scorpions that have very potent venom.

What is the Most Venomous Scorpion?

Deathstalker scorpion
The deathstalker scorpion can reach 4 inches in length.

©iStock.com/Javier Conejero

Leiurus quinquestriatus, also called the deathstalker or the yellow scorpion, is the most venomous scorpion in the world. The scorpion comes from the Buthidae family, and it’s known to live throughout many parts of the Thar Desert, Arabian Desert, and Sahara Desert.

These creatures are considered the most venomous scorpion because of the potency of their venom, not the amount that they deliver. The venom has an LD50 measure of 0.16–0.50 mg/kg. Between 1% and 10% of people that are stung by this scorpion will die without treatment

Usually, these scorpions have a pale yellow or yellow-brown coloration with darker backs. They can grow about 1.2 to 3 inches long, but some of them can apparently grow up to 4 inches long.

These creatures can be found throughout North Africa and parts of the Middle East including the following countries:

  • Chat
  • Algeria
  • Niger
  • Ethiopia
  • Egypt
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • Somalia
  • Yemen
  • Syria
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Israel
  • Mali
  • Lebanon

These scorpions are widespread and dangerous. People must look out for them in places where they’re common. Any person stung by one of these scorpions should seek medical attention to treat symptoms, especially because they deliver some of the most painful stings of any creature.

How Many People Do Scorpions Kill Per Year?

Although the deathstalker scorpion moniker may sound like the scorpion kills everyone it touches, scorpion deaths are rare. Roughly 1.2 million people are stung by scorpions throughout the world each year. However, only 3,250 people die from scorpion stings annually.

Therefore, less than half of a percent of all people stung by scorpions die as a result of their stings. Few scorpions, including the deathstalker, have venom that is potent enough to kill a healthy adult in most circumstances.

However, that does not mean it’s wise to press one’s luck when dealing with these critters. Instead, it is wise to admire scorpions from afar, especially if you’re not sure what they can do.  

How to Avoid Scorpion Stings

Scorpions sting bare limbs
Scorpions sting bare limbs, so it’s a good idea to wear shoes.

©RHJPhtotos/Shutterstock.com

Most people are stung by scorpions in and around their homes. Scorpions can hide in garages, in garden beds, and even in your shoes. If you live in a place where scorpions are common, you should follow some of these tips.

  1. Shake out your shoes before putting them on.
  2. Don’t handle scorpions if you find one.
  3. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and shoes if you are going outside where scorpions live.
  4. Keep an eye out for scorpions when cleaning your garden, in your garage, or in any other dark places they might hide.
  5. Pull your bed away from the wall to make it harder for them to climb.
  6. Educate young children about the dangers of scorpions.

These tips can help keep people safe from scorpion stings in their everyday life, cutting down on the complications these arthropods can bring.

The most venomous scorpion is found in parts of Africa and the Middle East. That doesn’t mean it’s the only dangerous scorpion out there, though. Many places around the world, including the United States, have scorpion species that can deliver medically significant stings. Make sure to learn how to safely coexist with these critters if they do live in your area.


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Scorpion
The yellow scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in the world
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About the Author

I've been a freelance writer since 2013, and I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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