Centruroides vittatus, or the”striped bark scorpion,” as the species is more commonly known, is the most frequently spotted scorpion species in the United States. This scorpion species is abundant all throughout Texas where it frequently enters homes by climbing exterior walls. Of the more than 1,500 scorpion species documented worldwide, only 20 to 25 species are considered dangerous to humans, and the striped bark scorpion is not one of them. However, striped bark scorpions can pose a tremendous nuisance when they move indoors, which they often do, as they are accustomed to living alongside humans. In addition to the striped bark scorpion, the Texas cave scorpion can also be found throughout much of the state including the central portion, but this species is unlikely to appear indoors.
Most people can readily recognize a scorpion when they see one, but the striped bark scorpion is quite small at only 2 ½ inches in length, and their bodies are usually yellow to tan in color with two vertical stripes running down their back. Most people that sustain one or more striped bark scorpion stings experience local pain and swelling for 10 to 20 minutes, but those who are allergic to their venom can suffer a potentially fatal case of anaphylaxis. It should be known that the venom produced by other insects, such as red imported fire ants, may cross-react with striped bark scorpion venom. Striped bark scorpions can be found in mountains, grasslands, pine forests, deciduous forests, dunes and they are the most commonly managed scorpion pests in central Texas homes, as Texas cave scorpions prefer outdoor habitats. These scorpions are often found below debris, wood piles and bundles of plant matter, but unlike most scorpions, they do not burrow; instead, they are skilled climbers, and they frequently congregate in attics by entering vents. Scorpions can remain in attics for long periods of time without being noticed by homeowners, but it is not uncommon for striped bark scorpion to migrate into lower-level living areas from hot upstairs attics during the summer.
Scorpions cannot be controlled with insecticides alone, and making structural modifications is often necessary to keep them outdoors. All cracks and other potential entry points on the exterior walls of homes should be sealed, crawl space and attic vents should be outfitted with a mesh-screen barrier, door sweeps should be installed, all plant matter, excess vegetation and clutter should be removed from yards, especially from around homes, grass should be well groomed, and apply caulk around utility openings and roof eaves. Licensed pest control operators should be contacted when chemical control becomes necessary.
Have you ever found scorpions in your home?