There are many different species of scorpions that are native to North America, occurring primarily in the drier, warmer areas of the Southwest states and into Mexico. The only genus considered dangerous is the genus Centruroides, and the two species of concern are limited to Arizona and Southern California.
True scorpions are characterized by the presence of an elongated “tail-like” appendage off the abdomen, tipped by a sharp stinger. They are arachnids, and have four pairs of legs, a pair of enlarged palps that are modified as claws, and the head and abdomen are combined as a cephalothorax. All true scorpions are predators that feed on other animals, using their stinger to subdue the prey or as a defensive weapon. The venom of most species is considered of little health consequence to humans. Scorpions may live up to 5 years or longer as adults, and the nymph stages usually complete in about one year. After mating the male scorpion may find itself being eaten by the female. Females do not lay eggs, but instead give birth to living young which climb onto her body and remain there until after their first molt, around one or two weeks later. Up to 100 young are possible from a single female.
True scorpions are easily identified by the large claws in front and the long, narrow tail tipped by the pointed stinger. Sizes range from about 1 inch to well over 7 inches in length. Colors of North American species range from light yellowish tan to very dark brown. The dangerous species in the genus Centruroides are slender, yellowish, and may have two darker stripes running front to back on their dorsal side. They also have a short spine at the base of the stinger.
Characteristics Important in Control:
Control is best accomplished by removal of habitat around structures. Scorpions are nocturnal, and spend their daylight hours hidden under debris or wood piles on the soil, or within clutter in storage areas of structures. Damper areas may also be an attraction to many of them, and control of moisture and exclusion efforts to prevent their entry to crawl spaces or basements will help in their prevention. Spreading wet burlap bags on the ground in summer weather will help to draw them to a location where they can more easily be eliminated.