- Scorpions, which are cousins of sorts to spiders, have eight legs just like them.
- Unlike spiders, they also have a pair of grasping pincers and a narrow, segmented tail.
- Contrary to popular belief, scorpions are not aggressive little creatures ever ready to strike. They only sting when they feel threatened.
Many insects and arachnids in the United States protect themselves with a painful bite or sting. In Arkansas, one of those is a scorpion, with a sharp, painful sting that can last for hours. For those who aren’t so fond of these stinging arachnids, you’ll be happy to learn there is just one species of scorpion in Arkansas: the Striped bark scorpion or Centruoides vittatus.
All About the Striped Bark Scorpion
Belonging to the Scorpionida order, striped bark scorpions are stinging insects that come in many color variations. Some unique qualities otherwise help them stand out, as well, like the fact that they glow under blacklights.
What is a Scorpion?
When most folks hear the word “arachnid” they assume you’re speaking of spiders. There are, however, a number of other critters that fall into this classification, including scorpions. These eight-legged arachnids are predatory and belong to the Scorpiones order. Unlike spiders, they have a pair of grasping pincers and a narrow, segmented tail that often curves forward over the back, with a stinger on the end.
Most species of scorpions live in desert regions but many, like the striped bark scorpion, have adapted to live in many other environmental conditions. The one continent where you won’t find them is Antarctica. There are 2,500 described species and 22 living families recognized spread throughout the world.
Thankfully, most scorpion species don’t pose a serious threat to humans and healthy adults typically don’t even need medical attention after stings. A handful of species (25) have venom capable of killing humans, but striped bark scorpions are not among them. Of course, some exceptions may follow, if a person is highly sensitive or allergic. Some sting cases may require medical attention.
The arachnid has been incorporated into legend and folklore, mythology, astrology, and even commercial brands. In the zodiac, the Scorpio sign is represented by the scorpion, coming from ancient mythology. The Greek myth of Scorpius depicts the tale of a giant scorpion fighting Orion and eventually both becoming constellations in the sky.
What Do Striped Bark Scorpions Look Like?
Growing to between 2-1/4 and 2-1/2 inches in length, striped bark scorpions are considered medium-sized arachnids. All arachnids have eight legs, and the scorpion is no exception. Two long, brown vertical stripes run down the body to help distinguish it from other scorpions, and a slender tail and triangular mark on the head also help. Females have shorter tails than males, in most cases.
The coloration of the scorpions allows them to blend in well with their environment, in pale yellow to brown, with those distinctive stripes. Bizarrely, the arachnids are more visible at night, at least under black lights: they glow!
What? These Critters Glow! How?
Under blacklight, striped bark scorpions, and several other types of these arachnids, glow in the dark! The blue-green hue comes as a byproduct of the chemical makeup of the scorpions. If they have recently shed, they are more vivid.
The arachnids glow by picking up the UV light of the sun and converting it into blue-green wavelengths. The ability is believed by some researchers to enable the scorpions to better see the world around them with a sort of “second eye” process using their entire bodies. Research hasn’t confirmed this yet, but observations have at least lent to the belief.
Facts About Striped Bark Scorpions
Finding their home in Arkansas, striped bark scorpions are actually the most common variety in the country. They also live in Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, as well as parts of Mexico.
These arachnids make their way smoothly between the indoors and outdoors, typically hiding in decaying organic matter, under rocks and logs, and in undisturbed areas of homes.
Life Cycle & Habitat of Scorpions in Arkansas
Mating for striped bark scorpions begins in the spring and may continue into autumn. The arachnids birth live scorplings (baby scorpions), with embryos nourished via the placenta before birth. After gestating for eight months, anywhere between 13 and 47 young are born. Once born, the scorplings will climb onto their mother’s back to molt. Once molting has occurred, the scorplings leave the nest.
The striped bark scorpion may live up to 25 years, though a more normal lifespan will be closer to eight.
Most commonly spotted at night when they are active, scorpions forage for food in cooler temperatures. This allows them to conserve water and energy and remain hydrated. Covering their bodies, though, is a waxy substance that also aids them in this process.
Spiders, centipedes, crickets, flies, and beetles are frequently a part of the scorpion’s diet, along with other insects. The pincers they bear help them trap, crush, and then ingest their prey after stinging and paralyzing them with their venom-spiked tails.
Striped Bark Scorpions Stings: Infrequent
Scorpions are not aggressive hunters of humans like some fictions lead us to believe. Rather, than sting only when frightened and threatened.
Rarely deadly, the sting of the striped bark scorpion is still incredibly painful. Swelling and itching follow, and the pain typically remains anywhere from several minutes to several days. In more severe cases, blurred vision, muscle spasms, tingling, and numbness may also occur.
What To Do if You Are Stung by a Scorpion
- Immediately clean the affected area with clean water and gentle soap.
- Apply a cold pack to reduce swelling and ease pain.
- If symptoms persist or go beyond the mild soreness and itchiness, seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Matt Levi Media/Shutterstock.com
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