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Scorpion Stings

Scorpions use their sting to capture prey and to defend themselves. They hunt at night and will not sting unless provoked or they feel threatened. All scorpions use their stings as a defense mechanism or a weapon to incapacitate prey. But the potency to humans of stings varies, depending on the scorpion species. One thing that all scorpions have in common is that the sting possesses venom, which usually is neurotoxic in nature.

Do Scorpions Bite or Sting?

Scorpions don’t actually bite – they only sting. Many people use the word “bite” to describe a sting.

How To Identify The Sting

What does a sting look like? Scorpion stings usually are most readily identified by actually seeing the scorpion sting a person or searching around to see a scorpion trying to get away after stinging someone.

Symptoms Of Stings

Most scorpion stings that occur in the United States cause only minor signs and symptoms such as pain, redness and warmth at the sting site. However, the venom of the bark scorpion is very toxic and can be deadly for those highly sensitive to the sting, particularly children.

Most scorpion sting symptoms are mildly painful and involve numbness, tingling and swelling around the sting site. More severe symptoms include muscle twitching, unusual head, neck and eye movements, drooling, sweating, vomiting, high blood pressure (hypertension), low blood pressure (hypotension), accelerated heart rate, restlessness or excitability. Stings can cause immediate pain or burning, and produce small swellings that are sensitive to the touch. Symptoms of Bark Scorpion stings result in numbness or tingling, blurry vision and twitching muscles. For children, hyperactivity and erratic eye movement can manifest.


Most species of scorpions living in the U.S. are not highly venomous, with the exception of Centruroides sculpteratus, the Arizona bark scorpion. In fact, most stings by North American scorpions, while painful, do not require extensive medical treatment.

Medical specialists can immobilize the affected part below the level of the heart, keeping the venom from spreading any further into the body and delaying the absorption of the poison. The spread of the venom is further limited by calming the patient in order to decrease the blood pressure and heart rate.

Envenomization, the process of injecting venom by biting, by the Arizona bark scorpion may cause death if not properly treated, so seek the advice and care of a physician for treatment of scorpion stings. There is, however, a product called Anascorp that is approved for treatment of stings by this scorpion species, but again check with your physician.

Risks Associated With Infections?

Secondary infections may occur if cleaning and disinfecting of the sting is not done.

How To Identify A Pet Sting

The best way to identify a scorpion sting to your pet is to observe your pet’s behavior. If stung, the pet may react by running around, yelping, whimpering and licking the wound. If a scorpion stings your dog or cat on an extremity, the pet may hold its paw or leg in the air and avoid putting pressure on it. Also, swelling and sensitivity around the sting site will help identify an unfriendly encounter with a scorpion.

Other Information

Out of 1,500 scorpion species, 50 are known to be lethal to humans, mostly belonging to the scorpion family called Buthidae. A triangular-shaped sternum, slender body, seemingly weak pincers, and thick, fleshy tail typically characterize this scorpion family. Their stings are painful, but if treated correctly, an infection can be prevented.


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