For something new and different, I thought we might cover a pest whose presence is often extremely surprising to East Tennessee homeowners. In fact, these creatures are so evasive that most people don’t know that they’re in the area. I’m talking about scorpions, a creature that, unfortunately, invokes the kind of fear responses that people usually reserve for spiders. They are cousins, after all.
Yes, there are scorpions in East Tennessee. They live mostly in the Smoky Mountains, which tends to surprise people since we often assume that scorpions must live in hot, dry areas. In fact, two species of scorpions live in our area, though they’re both quite small and fairly inoffensive.
Scorpions are easily identified by their arcing tail that they carry over their heads and the claws that they have in front like little lobsters. Yes, even our small scorpions can sting, but neither of the species in this state is considered dangerous. Unless you have a random allergy to their venom (which is quite unlikely), their sting is no worse than a bee sting. Their color can range from light tan to a dark brown, and they’re well-equipped with camouflage to help them blend in to the floors of the forests around here that are covered in leaves and pine needles.
Scorpions are most active during warm weather, which means that you are unlikely to encounter one in the wild before 2014. However, scorpions don’t mind the cold too much and can wait out bad weather with ease since they can go up to six months without eating. This is important since a scorpion can live 5-6 years and needs to be able to survive all the seasons.
Like spiders, scorpions are predators, so they are drawn to debris where other bugs may be living. If residents do find scorpions in the house, it is likely because they were drawn there by a woodpile or leaves too close to the structure. They are also drawn to moisture (likely because moisture is attractive to their prey), so you are most likely to find them in a bathroom or laundry room if they are indoors.
Interestingly enough, scorpions regulate their hunting habits based on their size. Large scorpions out in Arizona and California (which can grow up to 5-7 inches) rely on their strength to catch prey and crush them to death before consuming them. Small scorpions like the ones in Tennessee must rely on stealth-based hunting since they have to ensure that they can immobilize their insect prey with venom before eating them. This is why most Tennessee residents have never seen a scorpion. They are nocturnal hunters and would always prefer to avoid a fight they think they can’t win (though they’re not afraid to have a go at a person if they feel cornered).
Scorpions aren’t like ants and spiders, and you’ll probably never have a problem with an infestation of them in your home. However, we at Russell’s Pest Control know that it pays to be prepared for the unlikely. If you do start to see scorpions around the house, we know how to take care of them. Contact us here; we’d be glad to come out and handle the little creepers for you so you don’t have to.