It's right about this time every year when we start to see an increase in the number of phone calls inquiring about scorpion control and scorpions in general. In the greater Austin area the scorpion populations seem to be the highest west of I35 and the further west you go the more scorpions you seem to find.
With that being said there are plenty of scorpions in the surrounding areas as well. The Bastrop area starting east of Austin around Garfield going east through Cedar Creek, Bastrop and on out through Smithville is home to a large scorpion population with some homeowners counting multiple scorpions per day. The most common species of scorpion found in Texas is the Striped Bark Scorpion.
Scorpions are arachnids, close relatives of ticks, mites, and spiders. The adult striped bark scorpion usually reaches about two and a half inches in length. They are flat-bodied with four pairs of legs, two small pincers and a tail that can reach back over the body. At the end of the tail is the poison gland with a stinger.
The scorpion uses the stinger and poison whenever it is threatened as defense and also when attacking prey. People usually get stung when accidentally applying pressure to the scorpion by stepping on one with bare feet or lying on one in bed. The sting from the striped bark scorpion for most people is similar to that of a wasp sting however some people have been known to be allergic to the venom. Scorpions have poor vision and rely on their sense of touch more than eyesight to sense prey.
Scorpions prefer to live in dry habitats and prefer to remain hidden from the elements during the daylight hours. Because of the flat shape of their bodies, scorpions like to hide in cracks and crevices, wood piles, under stones and in tree bark.
From these hiding places, they tend to lay in wait to ambush prey. Scorpions will feed on most small insects, spiders, worms and even other scorpions. Scorpions can live up to twenty-five years but most live three to five years in the wild.
Female scorpions give birth to live young in then transparent sacs. As soon as the young scorpions free themselves from the sacs they climb on to moms back where they stay for about two weeks. Already capable of stinging these tiny babies are on their own by the time they climb down from their mother's back.
Managing scorpions around your home or business can be tricky. Scorpions can be very difficult to control with pesticides alone. the first step in controlling scorpions around the home should involve a good inspection of the area around the structure.
- Remove all trash, logs, boards, stones, bricks and other objects from around the structure.
- Keep grass closely mowed near the structure. Prune bushes and overhanging tree branches away from the structure. Tree branches can give scorpions a path to the roof.
- Store garbage containers in a frame that keeps them above ground level.
- Never bring firewood inside the structure unless it is placed directly on the fire.
- Install weather-stripping around loose-fitting doors and windows.
- Plug weep holes in stone or brick veneer structures with steel wool, copper mesh, pieces of nylon scouring pad, or small squares of screen wire. (Steel wool will rust when wet, so it should be used only on dark-colored facades.)
- Use sealant around roof eaves, pipes, and any other cracks into the structure.
- Keep window screens in good repair. Make sure they fit tightly in the window frame.
There are naturally derived pesticides available for controlling scorpions such as rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, thyme oil, peppermint oil, and pyrethrum. These natural pesticides degrade quickly after being applied therefore require more frequent applications.
Synthetic pesticides will give longer lasting results and therefore will require less frequent applications. Some formulations tend to give better results than others. Wettable powders and dusts seem to give better results than emulsifiable concentrates. This is probably due to the nature of the scorpion's bodies and appendages.
Whichever pesticide is chosen the highest allowable rate provided by the label is normally required to get any noticeable relief from scorpion infestations.