If you hear the word “scorpion,” it’s normal to have a moment of apprehension! These little creatures have a mean reputation for nasty stings — and they can look rather terrifying, too. Some can be venomous, while others might only cause a minor reaction. Often, scorpions are associated with the wild outdoors (which we have plenty of in Florida), but you might want to keep an eye out for these guys trespassing into your own backyard as well.
There are three species of scorpions found in Florida. Chances are you’ll discover them under garden debris, planks of wood, and other dark nooks and crannies of your yard. If the ground becomes too wet for their comfort (hello, summer), they could move into sheds, garages, or even your home. Yikes!
How can you identify scorpions in Florida? Do you need to worry about them living on your turf? Read on to find out all you need to know about Florida scorpions.
What You Need to Know About Florida Scorpions
The most common question asked by residents on this subject is, “What type of scorpion will I find on my property, and are they poisonous?”
Well, first things first, they are technically venomous, not poisonous. An easy way to remember the difference between the two is:
If you bite it, and you die, it’s poisonous.
If it bites you, and you die, it’s venomous.
With that grammar lesson out of the way, let’s learn which types you might run into.
Types of Scorpions Found in Florida
The three scorpions found in Florida are the Florida Bark Scorpion, the Hentz Striped Scorpion, and the Guiana Striped Scorpion. While their names sound fearsome, none of these scorpions cause life-threatening stings.
The Largest: Florida Bark Scorpion
The largest of the three Florida scorpions, the Florida Bark Scorpion is also known as the slender brown scorpion or brown bark scorpion. While the female is smaller than the male, this species can grow between three to five inches long. Spotting one of these in your garden can be intimidating!
This scorpion is usually reddish-black to dark brown. The legs are lighter in color, often yellowish, and the tail is long. They have relatively large pincers too. The sting of the Florida Bark Scorpion can be excruciating, and while it is venomous, it’s not as toxic as some other members in the bark scorpion genus. A sting from a Florida Bark Scorpion can cause complications for those with other conditions, so keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- muscle jerking or spasms
- difficulty swallowing
- leg weakness
- difficulty breathing
- swelling or hives over the body
Note that these kinds of reactions are rare, occurring in less than 5% of cases.
You’re more likely to find this species in the tropical areas under tree barks and logs. However, it can sometimes take up residence inside your home, most often in the walls. They like to feed on roaches, termites, and other small insects.
The Most Common: Hentz Striped Scorpion
Found in most parts of Florida, the Hentz Striped Scorpion is the most common of the three species. They average 2-2.5 inches in length, are pale yellow or light brown, and easily recognizable by the two long stripes on the top of its body and the long tail.
The Hentz Striped Scorpion likes to live under rocks and vegetation debris or in outbuildings like sheds. Stings of this scorpion are painful and often accompanied by localized swelling.
The Least Common: Guiana Striped Scorpion
We’re less likely to find this variety in Volusia/Flagler Counties, but if you venture down to the Miami area, you might spot the Guiana Striped Scorpion.
The Guiana Striped Scorpion has a smallish yellow body with a long, thin tail and large pincers. Two stripes run lengthwise down its body and on close inspection, you’ll notice brownish spots on its legs. They take up home under the bark of trees, rocks, and even inside bromeliads.
While not commonly encountered, if you happen to step on one while barefoot, you can expect a sharp, painful sting that’s often felt for hours.
Are Scorpions Dangerous to Children or Pets?
Scorpions are primarily nocturnal, so the chances of an encounter are generally minimal. They only become aggressive if threatened; they prefer to hide away rather than deal with a confrontation.
However, scorpions WILL sting if you get too close or they feel cornered. Because they like dark spaces, you might encounter one in your shoe or the back corner of a dark closet as you’re grappling around for something.
Scorpion stings are painful but in the vast majority of cases, not lethal. To ease the pain, numbness, stinging, or tingling sensations, wash the sting site with soap and water and apply a cold compress. Take a pain reliever (avoid sedatives) and wait it out.
However, if you’ve been stung and think you might be having an allergic reaction to the venom, seek medical help. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- A sudden increase in blood pressure
- Numbness or tingling sensations beyond the site of the sting
- Breaking out in a sweat
Children and the elderly are more likely to have severe reactions to scorpion stings. Your smaller pets may also react negatively. Consult your doctor as soon as possible!
Scorpions, as scary as they look, needn’t be a serious threat to you if you find one living in your garden or home. In fact, they help keep many pests away such as termites and cockroaches. Keep a healthy distance (or move it safely outside, if it has made its way inside) and chances are, all will be well!
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control