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Up my pant leg, that is…

Mother scorpion and babies, courtesy of phoenix.about.com

I went out to the garage to get something, and after a few minutes back in the house I felt a sharp sting – the unmistakable feeling of something small defending its territory in my trousers.  Ouch!

Pants quickly off and shaken, a teeny sandy, orangey scorpion trembled, terrified in the pile of the carpet.  It was literally a half inch long, or less.  Which is lucky for me.  There are many varieties of scorpion inhabiting the southwestern desert.  The Arizona Bark Scorpion, seen above, is venomous and can, in certain individuals, cause seizures.  My little guy was either a baby or an altogether different species; we didn’t keep him around long enough to ask him.  My heroic Captain whisked him away on a paper towel and set him free outside, where he belongs.  The sting site got a little red, a little puffy, and was off and on sore for the rest of the night, but by the next morning I had forgotten I’d been stung.

photo courtesy of dimackey.com

There are scorpions in Italy as well.  We frequently find small black ones in various parts of the house.  Sometimes they are dead and dessicated, sometimes they are quite lively.  For well over a year a little fellow lived under the baseboard next to Luciano‘s supper dish; we assume he came out at night to scarf down kitty scraps.  During the day he hid in the safety of his baseboard with only his larger claw partly visible, like a child who thinks he’s hiding because he can’t see you.  We got pretty fond of Blackie, especially after we checked with the vet and learned that in the off chance that he stung Luciano, there would not be any major trouble.  Little Blackie stayed with us even after Luciano was gone, and in memory of our funny cat I sometimes put down a crumb of something for his baseboard buddy to eat.  Then we had an infestation of ants, as sometimes happens in spring.  Without thinking we spread poison along the ant trail which happened to lead along Blackie’s baseboard.  That was the end of him.  We felt pretty bad about that.

So, are scorpions dangerous?  Clearly the Arizona Bark Scorpion can be, though Dr. Trisha McNair reports that of the 1,400 scorpion species worldwide, only about 25 have venom that can kill a person.  European scorpions in general are a nuisance at worst, their sting being like that of a bee or wasp.  There’s more on scorpions here from Dr. McNair.  But toxic or not, I can tell you from experience you don’t really want them crawling around in your pants!

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