Striped Bark Scorpion by George Giltner

Striped Bark Scorpion

  (Centruroides vittatus)

Battle of the Bugs Article by George Giltner,

Master Gardener

 

The striped bark scorpion is very common in Texas, and its range spreads outward into the central United States and northern Mexico.  Numerous encounters and stings occur here in Beauregard Parish.  They may be found in piles of firewood, in decaying vegetation, in cracks of bricks, under logs, and many other places where it is cool, moist, and provides shelter.  However the most unwelcome place to find them is in your house which is a favorite habitat.  Local reports include finding them in sinks, bathtubs, under tar paper roofing, in clothing and even under bedroom pillows.  A handy UV flashlight, the “UV LED tracker light” will fluoresce scorpions, and also cat and mouse urine.

 

 

Image 1. The striped bark scorpion is a native of Beauregard Parish.

 

 

Centruroides vittatus, our local striped bark scorpion, can be identified by two dark and long stripes down its back.  Also look for the dark triangular mark on its head.  The entire length with the tail extended approaches 3 inches.  The sting is most intense for around thirty minutes, but seemingly much longer for children.  The only reported deaths actually occurred from anaphylactic shock instead of the actual neurotoxin venom.  Therefore the normal consequence of this scorpion sting is similar to a wasp sting.  A much more painful sting comes from its cousin, C. exilicauda, the western bark scorpion, which causes frothing of the mouth, severe pain, swelling, breathing difficulty, and convulsions.  Thankfully these lighter brown, but similar scorpions are not found in our area. 

Another identity feature of our striped bark scorpion is their courtship dance which lasts for hours.  If you see two scorpions with locked pinchers and jaws, two stepping, they are not fighting.  They are beginning the reproductive process which occurs periodically from fall to early summer.  Females give live birth to about 50 young which travel on her back until first molt.  Therefore careful and immediate removal from the house is recommended.

Food for these scorpions is roaches, crickets, flies, beetles, other insects, and a favorite is spiders.  So on a positive note, they control many unwanted insects at night.  Predators of scorpions include centipedes, tarantulas, shrews, some lizards, mice and bats.

Scorpion control can be difficult.  First try to remove the habitat and food supply.  Clean up boards, trash, and organic debris.  Then remove other critters that scorpions feed on as listed above.  Caulk entry points like cracks around windows, doors, wires, and pipes.  Around hiding places, “Demon WP” or “Cyper WP” are very effective, but read and follow all warnings and instructions of these chemical treatments.  These powders have left visible stains on dark surfaces, so you may want to try “Cyonara 9.7” or “D-Fence SC”.  In attics, “Delta Dust” which is deltamethrin, the same chemical found in “D-Fence”, will last up to 8 months.

Editor’s note: If you find an insect or other creepy critter, feel free to bring your specimen to the LSU AgCenter at 203 West Third Street, DeRidder, LA. The County Agent can help identify the critter and recommend a treatment.

 

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