Wednesday, September 21, 2011

But we still want you to come and visit...

I don't want to spend too much time talking about scorpions, because they are pretty gross, but there were lots of comments and questions on my FB page when the previous post (about Henry getting stung) went up, and I thought I would quickly answer them here.

Before we moved out here to Arizona, I was concerned about scorpions, but my sister-in-law, who has lived here for 6 years, assured me she had only seen scorpions twice in her house that whole time.  That didn't seem too bad!

When we got the RESPA disclosure documents from the seller of our house, she noted that she had seen scorpions, but the way it was worded on the document made it seem like it was a rare occurrence.  So you can imagine my dismay when our very first afternoon at the house we found a LIVE scorpion in the carpet in the living room.  We went on to find several more the next day, and all together we found about 20 scorpions IN THE HOUSE that first week.  Elliott and the kids also had great fun using the black light we borrowed from my cousin to go scorpion hunting around the outside of the house at night.  They killed 11 the first night, and 6-7 each of the remaining nights of that first week.

Needless to say, we called an exterminator right away.  He sprayed the inside and the outside of the house, but I'm not sure it made much of a dent in the scorpion numbers.  When spraying for insects, scorpions aren't super affected because of their hard exo-skeleton.  The spraying does however get rid of their prey, and after that first spray, we were privileged to find lots of dead roaches outside the perimeter of the house! Lovely.

It doesn't seem to me like the spraying did too much.  We do see less scorpions now, last week we were killing about 2 a day inside the house, and this week we have seen slightly less than that, but as we move into Fall and Winter, the scorpions will start to go dormant on their own.

When we talk to the many Mesa residents we have met here so far, they are always shocked at the number of scorpions we have found in our house. Even for a home that is in a former orange grove, which tend to have more scorpions than the average neighborhood, we have larger than normal numbers.

We have spoken with two of our neighbors who have lived in the neighborhood since it was first built, about 25 years ago.  They both said, separately, that they never saw scorpions around their houses until a couple of years ago.

The scorpion that stung Henry was an Arizona Bark Scorpion.  I found a blog post written on the Orange Dragonfly blog from September 2010 that mentioned these scorpions.  Here is what she said:

About 40-60 species occur in Arizona, the Bark Scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda) is the only species in Arizona of medical importance.  In the USA the bark scorpion is found in southeastern California, Arizona, Nevada, southern Utah, and southwestern New Mexico. It is most commonly found under rocks, logs, tree bark, and other surface objects. The bark scorpion (1-3 inches in length) is the most commonly encountered house scorpion. They are common throughout many habitats but almost always in rocky areas. This is the one we most often see hanging out unwanted on our living room floor.

Most scorpion species are solitary in nature. The exception to this is bark scorpions, which may over-winter in colonies of 20-30 adults. Each adult can have up to 20 young! The bark scorpion is also one of relatively few species that are able climbers ~ and they love palm trees.

The venom of the bark scorpion may produce severe pain (but rarely swelling) at the site of the sting, numbness, frothing at the mouth, difficulties in breathing (including respiratory paralysis), muscle twitching, and convulsions can occur.

After Henry was stung, I called Poison Control to see what they recommended.  Belinda, in the call center, gave me the symptoms to look for (all those ones listed above), and  said she would call back in 15 minutes to see how he was doing.  She called back several times, and I was happy that I was able to report he seemed fine.  We do think he had a tingling numbness in his leg for a little bit, like you get when one of your limbs falls asleep, but we gave him some ibuprofen to help, and he seemed fine after that.  The final time I spoke with Belinda, she mentioned that he could have gotten what they call a "dry sting", where no venom is released.  I think that may be what happened.

We have found scorpions in almost every room of our house, but the place we find them most often is in the living room, and especially under the piano.  It makes me nervous every time I sit down to play!  I am wondering if there was a female that had a litter of babies that took up residence under the carpet.  We may end up putting hardwood in much sooner than we originally planned!  



Carla said...

I'm assuming you have the Poison Control Center on speed dial!
You might also try diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the base of the house, or where you believe the scorpions might enter.

Roxanne said...

Yikes! I would be going absolutely insane. I'm so glad Henry did ok with it. Hard wood floors sounds like a great idea!

Barbara said...

Yes you do need hardwood floors-sooner the better. I would be worried too because they seem to be abundant and they would be hard to see in carpet. Glad Henry is okay but it is scary. Love his smile and that darling picture.

Lyle said...

When I lived in Idaho, there was a real problem with hobo spiders. A bite could cause some real problems, as I recall, but fortunately none of us ever got stung. But they were a constant problem. You'd be sitting there watching TV with the lights off and you'd see something crawling along the floor. We had a bunch of sticky traps on the floor, so when they walked across the trap, they'd get stuck. I wonder if that sort of thing would work for a scorpion?

Elizabeth said...

Oh man. Just thinking of them multiplying under your piano... GROSS. Def time for hardwood.

Andrew said...

actually, mom, the contrary to most people's beliefs, the flat rock scorpion, which can grow up to six inches in length, has the most potent venom of any scorpion native to arizona.

Kelsey said...

Sounds like you have a nest! I guess it's good that you've somewhat isolated the source... You probably don't want to hear this, but when my sister was on her mission in Taiwan, she and her companion were frequently killing cockroaches in their apt. One p-day they decided to deep clean, and when she pulled her mattress off of her bed, she uncovered a nest of HUNDREDS of roaches that she had been sleeping on for months. They grabbed a wallet and keys and ran out of their apartment...returning with gloves, roach killer, and some elders to help with the extermination.