A Scorpion In Tennessee?

Most people think of Scorpions as residing in arid, dry areas such as Southwest areas of the United States. However, we do have Scorpions that reside here in Tennessee. The most common is the Southern Devil Scorpion, or also called the Unstriped Scorpion. In addition to Tennessee, they can be found in most of the Southeast. Scorpions are arthropods and classified as Arachnids which also includes spiders.

They are not deadly, like most Scorpions from the Middle East; however their sting can be quite painful. It has been likened to the sting of a wasp that produces pain, swelling and redness around the bite area. They are relatively harmless, as they are not actively looking to bite humans, although some people do have allergies to them and may need to seek medical attention if bitten and symptoms persist.

Mature adults are brown in color, are 1 ½” to 2” Long, have 8 legs, front claws, and a stinger on the rear. While most of the time they are skittish and run from danger, they can take a defensive stance with front claws outstretched and the tail / stinger raised up and over the body in a menacing posture. Do not get close if in this stance because they now feel in danger and can be quick to sting.

The female Southern Devil Scorpion can give birth to as many as 30 – 60 offspring. They are born not as eggs, but as live babies that are carried on her back for 4 – 5 weeks until they are large enough to live and hunt by themselves. At this point they shed their exoskeleton for a larger and tougher shell to survive as adults. They need this protection, as they have predators such as birds and lizards.

They are generally found at night due to the fact that they are nocturnal and will find hiding places underground, in wood piles, stacks of lumber, dead logs or even in trash. But as they venture out at night, they are looking for food such as small spiders, crickets and caterpillars. They use their tail to inject the venom into the prey, pin the insect down until it is dead, and then use their claws to pull apart pieces small enough to eat. 

Although their natural habitat is among the leaves and downed limbs outdoors, they can find their way into your house. This is through any cracks, crevices or unsealed doors and windows. The best way to protect from having the unfortunate encounter of a Southern Devil Scorpion in your house is through exclusion. Eliminate any openings, seal doors, windows, plumbing, electrical and any other devices that penetrate your walls from the outside. Also, cleaning up of debris, wood and leaf piles near the house will control their environment. An insecticide can also be applied to the outside perimeter of the home and glue traps along baseboards to discourage entry.

As with many other spider species such as Brown Recluse, if you suspect have Southern Devil Scorpions have invaded your home, be aware and take precautions. These scorpions look for dark hiding places. Always shake out stored blankets, shoes that have been stored, stacked clothes in closets or any other good dark hiding place. Although it is rare that we come across these in homes, they do reside here in Tennessee. So, be aware and cautious to avoid this painful sting.