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Scorpions are classified as arachnids, the same as spiders. Unlike their web-spinning cousins, however, scorpions don’t build their own homes. Instead, they’re mostly opportunists who find shelter where they can get it, hiding in cracks and crevices, and under rocks and logs -- although some species burrow underground for shelter. Approximately 70 species of scorpions live throughout North America, the most notable of which include the bark scorpion, the Arizona hairy scorpion, the stripe-tailed scorpion and the Southern unstriped scorpion.
The Dangerous Bark Scorpion
The bark scorpion is the only species in the United States whose venom is powerful enough to make it dangerous to humans. This species is found in southwestern New Mexico, extreme southeastern California and all of Arizona. The other thing that makes this species notable is the creature's ability to climb. The black scorpion usually makes home in palm trees, under tree bark, or in rocky cliffs. However, thanks to the scorpion's ability to scale walls, the animal sometimes enters human dwellings and might be found hiding out in attics or cellars as well as hiding out in wood piles or around stacked bricks.
The Arizona Hairy Scorpion
Although named for the state in which the species is most commonly found, the Arizona hairy scorpion’s range extends into southern California. This species is notable for being the largest scorpion in North America, with adults measuring around half a foot long. Although large and aggressive, their venom isn’t strong enough to harm humans, though their sting can be quite painful. This species typically burrows underground during the day, coming out at night to hunt for prey. However, the Arizona hairy also sometimes hides under rocks, logs and other objects -- including inside sleeping bags. The Arizona hairy scorpion is attracted to water and damp areas, and might be found in and around homes in places such as wood piles, bathrooms, closets, attics and crawl spaces.
The Common Striped-Tail Scorpion
The striped-tail scorpion is one of the most common species, found throughout the United States. This species likes to make home by burrowing in sandy soil, although he can make himself at home in a wide range of habitats and environments, including desert floor and rocky planes. The common striped-tail scorpion can also be found hiding under common objects including shoes and sleeping bags. Like the Arizona hairy spider, the creature has a painful sting, but his venom isn’t considered dangerous.
The Devilish Southern Unstriped Scorpion
The southern unstriped scorpion sometimes goes by the name “southern devil scorpion.” This small scorpion is the only species found throughout the Appalachian states, including Virginia and West Virginia, the western parts of North and South Carolina, and northern parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. As a mountain scorpion, the southern unstriped prefers to hide out on rocky hillsides and is sometimes found in the crevices of brick walls and hanging out in crawl spaces. The southern scorpion also likes to hide under leaves and dense ground cover such as tall grass and mulch.
- UC IPM Online: How to Manage Pests: Scorpions
- Oklahoma State University: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service: Scorpions
- Department of Entomology North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Residential, Structural and Community Pests: Scorpions
- Bugguide.net: Species Vaejovis Carolinianus - Southern Unstriped Scorpion
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Scorpions in Kentucky
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images