Scorpion Stings

Order: Scorpiones

Scorpions: Overview | Scorpion Stings | Prevention

Symptoms of a scorpion sting

Most scorpions are not dangerous to humans. There are, however, a few species, in the family Buthidae, that can be dangerous to humans. The most venomous scorpion in the United States is the bark scorpion.

Common symptoms of a scorpion sting include:

  • pain, tingling or burning sensation at the sting site
  • malaise, sweating, nausea and vomiting
  • salivating
  • numbness
  • muscle twitching
  • abnormal neck, eye and head movements/twitching
  • heart palpitations
  • breathing difficulties may occur

More severe reactions include:

  • blurring of consciousness
  • unconsciousness
  • convulsions
  • fall in blood pressure
  • shock
  • the threat of death

Treatment of a scorpion sting:

  • clean the sting area
  • apply an ice pack wrapped in a washcloth or other covering for 10 minutes an repeat as necessary
  • Call a poison control center. Poison Control Centers are usually open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you.  The Poison Help hotline 1-800-222-1222 serves as a key medical information resource.


If you are stung by a bark scorpion, seek medical attention immediately.

Bark Scorpion, 2008, Photo by Musides. Wikimedia.
Bark Scorpion, 2008, Photo by Musides. Wikimedia.

Bark Scorpion - Centruroides exilicauda (formerly C. sculpturatus)

Medically Significant Scorpion Species

Only one species of scorpion in North America, and about 20 others worldwide, have venom potent enough to be dangerous to human beings. The North American species, Centruroides exilicauda (formerly called C. sculpturatus), is found over much of Arizona and Mexico. It is also known as the bark scorpion. A small population occurs in extreme southeastern California, and a few records exist for southern Utah and small parts of Texas, New Mexico and Nevada.

The venom of the Arizona bark scorpion can cause

  • severe pain and swelling at the site of the sting
  • numbness
  • frothing at the mouth
  • respiratory difficulties
  • muscle twitching
  • convulsions

The sting is more dangerous to infants, small children and the elderly. Death is rare, especially in more recent years. In the past 20 years there haven't been any reported fatalities due to scorpion stings.

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Medically significant species of scorpion occur worldwide:

  • In the Mediterranean and North Africa - Buthus, Leiurus, Androdoctonus and Leiurus
  • In Western and Southern Africa - Parabuthus
  • Across Southern Africa to Southeast Asia - Buthotus (also known as Hottentotta)
  • In Asia - Mesobuthus and the Buthotus (also known as Hottentotta)
  • South America - Tityus

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The more venomous scorpions have lighter, more delicate pedipalps and larger, stronger tails. The Buthidae family contains most of the scorpions dangerous to man. They can generally be distinguished by the triangular sternal plate on their ventral side. Other species' sternal plates are more square or pentagonal.

More information on control and removal of scorpions

Common Questions:

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What do scorpions eat?

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Scorpions: Overview | Scorpion Stings | Prevention

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