Scorpions are often feared for their aggressive looks and venomous sting. While most types of scorpions aren’t venomous, some species are considered deadly to humans.
Venomous scorpion stings are treated with medications according to symptoms. Analgesics are used on most people stung by scorpions. Since their sting affects the cardiovascular system, people stung by scorpions may also be treated with antivenom and vasodilators.
Table of Contents
What Are Scorpions?
Scorpions represent a species of arachnids with 8 legs, pincers, and a thick segmented tail. This tail is known for its upward curved position. It can be used to sting with or without venom in offense or defense.
Scorpions live all around the world, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, in tropical areas, and to a lesser extent even in the Northern Hemisphere.
Scorpions come in many colors depending on their habitat. Their diet may also fluctuate depending on where they live.
Scorpions are black, tan, red, or brown arachnids with pincers and a thick tail. Their thick segmented tails are curved upwards and ready to be used against prey or to defend themselves from predators.
As arachnids, scorpions share some traits with spiders. These traits include diet as scorpions mostly eat insects, but they may also eat vertebrates.
Scorpions are known for feeding on a wide range of insects. They prefer grasshoppers, spiders, ants, wasps, and centipedes. They also eat termites and woodlice.
Some species of scorpions are even known for eating lizards. They might also sting and overpower small snakes.
While fearsome predators scorpions are also predated by some species. Birds, snakes, and lizards are among the animals that eat scorpions.
Most scorpion species use the same method to catch prey. They quickly grab an insect with their pincers and while holding it down using the tip of their tails to sting the victim and immobilize it for consumption.
Scorpions have widespread distribution. They live on most continents and have adapted to various climates.
Most scorpions are found in very hot climates and deserts,
Types of Scorpions
1. Striped Bark Scorpion
The Striped Bark Scorpion (Centruroides vittatus) gets its name from its dark stripes that run from head to tail. This species has a dark yellow color with dark stripes on its back.
Scorpions of these species are found in Southern US where they often enter homes. Venomous but not deadly, these scorpions should be avoided.
Growing to a size of up to 70mm, these scorpions have a mildly venomous sting, rarely deadly. Their venom can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps and vomiting.
This type of scorpion is mostly found in barns in rural areas during the day.
2. Western Forest Scorpion
The Western Forest Scorpion (Uroctonus mordax) is one of the most common scorpions in California. As its name implies this scorpion is common in forested areas of the state.
Common in Northern California, the Western Forest Scorpion is found in oak woodlands and redwood forests.
Its forested habitat also influences its looks. This scorpion has a dark color which is sometimes described as amber or dark brown.
Vastly limited to California forests, this species is also considered under threat due to its naturally-diminishing forested habitat.
3. Stripe-tailed Scorpion
These scorpions (Paravaejovis spinigerus) are common in Southwestern US. They are known to prefer dry habitats and they’re also seen as venomous.
Strip-tailed Scorpions produce a type of venom that isn’t dangerous to humans or mammals. The species only have a sufficient amount of venom to kill small prey such as grasshoppers.
Stripe-tailed scorpions are also known for their laborious mating process. Both the male and the female dancers are in front of each other in a mating ritual.
Female scorpions can sometimes eat the male scorpion at the end of this long mating dance.
4. Southern Devil Scorpion
These dark scorpions (Vaejovis carolinianus) are found in Southeastern US. It’s here that they are seen in humid areas, unlike many other types of scorpions that are seen in drier states.
Scorpions of this genus aren’t considered venomous and dangerous to people. However, they can still sting and this results in a painful sensation for humans.
However, seeing one of these scorpions isn’t easy as they’re known to look for prey at night. They spend most days underground or behind the shelter.
Females are known for giving birth to a large number of specimens. Up to 80 scorpions emerge from a single female after the mating season.
5. California Common Scorpion
The light-color California Common Scorpion (Paruroctonus silvestrii) lives in California and nearby states. This type of small scorpion isn’t deadly to humans but it’s often found indoors.
California Common Scorpions mostly eat insects and bugs. They produce a type of venom used to paralyze prey.
Members of this species can live more than 10 years. They can make their way indoors looking for prey such as spiders
6. Desert Hairy Scorpion
The yellow Desert Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis) is common in the Sonoran Desert. This is the largest species found in the US as it measures around 5.5 inches.
Desert Hairy Scorpions are known for their large size which allows them to eat all types of prey including snakes.
Members of this species have been found in moist areas of deserts such as under rocks, but they rarely come out during the day.
This species is considered very aggressive but not lethal or dangerous to humans as its venom only impacts insects. Still, the sting of the Desert Hairy Scorpion is comparable in pain to a bee sting.
7. Arizona Bark Scorpion
The Arizona Bark Scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) grows to a size of just over 3 inches. This is the most venomous scorpion found in North America.
People can see very severe adverse reactions when stung by this scorpion. Reactions such as vomiting and nausea are common. They can last up to 72 hours.
In most cases, people stung by this scorpion also have a difficult time moving and breathing normally.
Antivenom is given to people stung by this species.
To avoid it is the easiest by staying away from riparian zones such as cottonwood areas around water sources.
If you get stung by this scorpion it’s best to clean the area of the sting and take paracetamol until you reach the nearest hospital.
8. Paravaejovis puritanus
This scorpion species is characterized by its pale coloring. It can be found in Northern Mexico and to a lesser extent in Southern California.
Scorpions of this genus are nocturnal, like all scorpions in the US. They are only found under rocks or leaves during the day due to the higher moisture levels.
Members of this species use their faint color as camouflage when sitting on rocks and rocky terrains.
9. Dune Scorpion
The Dune Scorpion (Smeringurus mesaensis) is a species of sand scorpion. It lives in deserts and arid climates of the Southwestern US.
While nocturnal, this species is difficult to spot even if it comes out during the day due to its coloring. Its faint gray color acts as camouflage when the scorpion sits on dunes.
However, this species is mostly nocturnal. It has been shown that the Dune scorpion is mainly active in the first part of the night.
Known to live underground, these scorpions remain difficult to see even for researchers. They live alone only looking for other scorpions to mate.
Found in the deserts of Southwestern US, Dune scorpions are rather small, mostly growing up to 70mm.
10. Yellow Devil Scorpion
This species of scorpions (Paravaejovis confusus) are common around the Sonoran Desert. It has an average size for scorpions living in North America as it grows to 60-70mm.
Scorpions of this genus aren’t dangerous to humans. Its venom is painful but not life-threatening.
Yellow Devil Scorpions are known for having a typical diet to a Sonoran Desert scorpion. This includes crickets and various types of worms.
These scorpions are also known for eating scorpions of other species.
Lizards are among the most prevalent predators of the species.
11. California Swollenstinger Scorpion
This species (Anuroctonus pococki) is known for its dark brown body and black pincers. While common in Southern California, this type of scorpion isn’t easy to see.
Like other scorpions, the California Swollenstinger is a nocturnal species. Its dark color and its nighttime activity make it a rare sight.
This species is known to come out at night to look for insects and spiders. It uses its pincers to grab and hold insects preventing a quick escape.
Venom is always injected into prey so scorpions can eat them easier. This venom is known to attack the nervous system of insects and other prey which prevents them from moving around as usual.
12. Northern Scorpion
As its name suggests, the Northern Scorpion (Paruroctonus boreus) is a species found in the Northern territories. It can be found in Northern states such as Montana.
The Northern scorpion is the only scorpion found in Canada.
Members of this species are known for having either a brown or a dark brown color. They are found in many desert parks in the North.
Northern scorpions burrow in the ground. Most Northern scorpion stings are reported by backcountry adventurers.
These scorpions are known for making into the tent of hikers or fishermen.
While they do bite, Northern scorpions don’t have lethal venom.
13. Sawfinger Scorpion
The species of scorpions (Serradigitus gertschi) are seen often even as a nocturnal species. Found around the San Francisco Bay area, this scorpion is known to glow in the dark when under UV light.
Tourists seek this scorpion out using black light at night when it comes out to eat.
This nocturnal scorpion species aren’t venomous to people. However, it’s characterized from aggressive to very aggressive regardless of their size.
Sawfinger scorpions are known for growing up to ¾ inches. Most members of this species are found in California.
14. Hentz Striped Scorpion
This scorpion species (Centruroides hentzi) is found in the US. Hentz Striped scorpions live in numerous states and they are known to be among the eusocial types of scorpions in the US.
Hentz Striped scorpions live together more than other scorpion species in the US. It means they also have to compete for resources and for finding a prospective mate.
Males of this species are in direct competition for females more than solitary scorpions.
In most cases, the female scorpion chooses to mate with the large male scorpion.
These scorpions can often be seen chasing arachnids, insects, and even young scorpions of the same species.
15. Beck’s Desert Scorpion
This species (Paruroctonus becki) is endemic to California. Research shows it’s one of the oldest species traceable in this area of the world.
Beck’s Desert scorpions are tied to arachnids that migrated to the area of the current Mojave Desert after the last postglacial expansion.
The climate here seems to fit this species. The summers in the Mojave Desert are very warm. Winters in the desert are mild and this allows the species to live for many years.
Beck’s Desert scorpions are identified by their pale yellow or pale brown coloring. The species has dark gray cross-bands across its body.
Similar to sand scorpions, Beck’s Desert scorpion remains largely undetected on rocks, and sand gave it such pale coloring.
16. Superstition Mountains Scorpion
This species (Superstitionia donensis) has been discovered in Arizona and nearby states such as Nevada. The superstition Mountains are where this scorpion was first discovered in the ‘40s.
Members of this species are distinguishable through their brown color and dark brown dorsal.
17. Dune Devil Scorpion
This species (Paravaejovis waeringi) is commonly found in Southern California and the Baja Desert. Scorpions of this genus are known to be very small.
Even the largest Dune Devil scorpions measure just 45mm, making them smaller than the average scorpion species in California.
They can be recognized by a faint red-brown color all across the body.
Scorpions of this genus are found on cliffs and hillsides. In the absence of cliffs, the scorpions are seen on rocky terrain.
Females of the species are a bit larger than males, similar to other scorpions in California.
18. Texas Cave Scorpion
As the name suggests, this (Pseudouroctonus reddelli) is a species of scorpion that live in caves. It’s the largest cave scorpion found in Texas.
Besides this unofficial title, the scorpion barely grows to 50mm.
This dark-colored scorpion is known to live in caves where it finds its favorite food, the cave cricket.
Cave crickets might be larger than the Texas Cave scorpion. However, these scorpions use their venom (not lethal to humans) against cave crickets to immobilize them.
As stung cricket is almost paralyzed by the scorpion.
19. Trans-Pecos Smoothclaw Scorpion
Scorpions of this species (Diplocentrus lindo) are found in Texas. They are also found in Northern Mexico.
Trans-Pecos Smothclaws are identified by a body size of up to 1.5 inches.
They have a dark brown shiny color but they can’t be seen during the day. Nocturnal scorpions of this species are burrowing.
Living underground is both a preference and a requirement when it comes to escaping hot Texas summers.
20. Lesser Stripetail Scorpion
Scorpions of this species (Chihuahuanus coahuilae) are found in Southern US. Their habitat expands through Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
Known for their striped appearance, these scorpions grow to a maximum size between 40 and 50mm.
While not venomous to humans, they are still to be avoided. Lesser Stripetail scorpion stings are known to be very painful.
Acute pain is common even after 30 minutes from the sting of this scorpion.
21. Black Hairy Scorpion
The Black Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus spadix) is also known as the black-back scorpion. This is one of the largest scorpions in the US as it grows to almost 5.5 inches.
High levels of aggression are common in the species. This innate aggressiveness is common even when the scorpion is raised in captivity.
Insects are the preferred diet of the species.
On the other hand, these scorpions might turn cannibalistic even eating their young offspring at times.
22. Slender Brown Scorpion
The Slender Brown Scorpion (Centruroides gracilis) is one of the venomous species found in the US. Venom is dangerous to people but not lethal.
Some of the first symptoms of its sting include red skin and swollen skin.
Pain and itching are also common symptoms.
One of the main causes of concern for the species is its effect on the cardiovascular system. Arythmia is common after a sting of this species.
Respiratory problems are also common for people stung by this species.
23. Russell’s Scorpion
Common in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, this species (Chihuahuanus russelli) is known for living in The Chihuahuan Desert.
Its color resembles its habitat in the desert where this species is known for its earthy tan coloring.
Scorpions of this genus are known to grow to 40-50mm.
As a burrower species, Russell’s scorpion hides under various objects. In the desert, this can be rocks or various types of plants. It also hides in the burrows of various rodents.
24. Anza-Borrego Hairy Scorpion
The Anza-Borrego Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus anzaborrego) is found in Southern California.
As its name implies, this scorpion species is tied to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
This state park has a unique ecosystem, sheltered by the Cleveland National Forest to the West and by the Salton Sea in the East.
Scorpions of this genus are often confused with Black-Hairy scorpions as both have a black back.
25. Lesser Brown Scorpion
The Lesser Brown Scorpion (Isometrus maculatus) is known for its worldwide presence, including in Hawaii.
Members of the species are among those easy to identify despite their nocturnal nature.
A dark yellow or dark brown body coloring makes the species stand out.
There are many Lesser Brown scorpion sub-species. Most of them measure between 30 and 70mm.
Scorpions of this genus have been compared to crabs in terms of looks and to spiders in terms of mating.
Male and female scorpions dance in front of each other at the beginning of the mating ritual, similar to spiders.
26. Eastern Sand Scorpion
These spider-eating scorpions (Paruroctonus utahensis) live in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico as well as in Northern Mexico.
They are recognized by a lime-yellow coloring which makes them stand out on other surfaces outside rocks and sand.
Scorpions of this genus are burrowers. They like sand as it’s easy to dig through.
Eastern Sand scorpions have a limited diet since they live in a desert. They mostly eat insects and other arachnids such as spiders. They often take on larger insects as they can paralyze them with their venom.
27. Thick-handed Scorpion
Common in the Chihuahuan Desert, the Thick-handled Scorpion (Chihuahuanus crassimanus) is identified by its yellow-amber color with a brown striped back.
These scorpions are nocturnal and known for exclusively living in the desert. They only come out at night, mainly to look for food or to mate.
Female Thick-handled scorpions give birth to live scorpions which look like miniature adults with a more faded coloring.
These scorpions are found in the extreme south of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. They are also found in large numbers in Northern Mexico.
28. Intermediate Scorpion
The Intermediate Scorpion (Vaejovis intermedius) is found in North and Central America.
Scorpions of this genus are known to grow to a size between 45 and 55mm. They are also known as some of the most aggressive species in the Southern US.
High aggression in this species manifests itself by quickly charging at enemies, including people. It then rapidly stings its enemy, often multiple times.
The venom of this species is believed not to be lethal to people. However, it can be painful.
Characteristic of rocky terrains, the species is known to insert more venom into prey compared to other scorpions.
While nocturnal, it can sometimes be seen during the day when it comes out from its hiding places under rocks, mainly when disturbed.