A scorpion is part of the arachnid family, which also includes mites, ticks,
and spiders. Scorpions are about 3 inches long (about the length of a crayon), with
eight legs and a small pair of claws that look like crabs' claws. A scorpion's stinger
is at the end of its long tail.
There are more than 1,000 species of scorpions all over the world, and at least
70 species are found in the United States, mostly in the southwestern states and Florida.
Of these species, only one type of scorpion, which usually lives in Arizona, New Mexico,
and other southwestern states, can kill people.
Scorpions like to live in cool, damp places like basements, woodpiles, and junk
piles. Usually, they're nocturnal (they sleep during the day and come out at night)
and more active when it rains.
What a Sting Looks and Feels Like
If a person gets stung by a scorpion, the area of the sting will hurt and may get
swollen or red, depending on the type of scorpion. More severe reactions from the
venom (poison) involving other parts of the body also can occur.
What You Should Do
If you ever think you've been stung by a scorpion, tell an adult immediately.
With an adult's help, put an ice pack on the sting to keep down swelling.
Because it's hard to tell a dangerous scorpion from one that is harmless, all scorpion
stings must be treated by a doctor. Capture the scorpion for identification if it
is possible to do so safely, and bring it with you to the doctor. Knowing the type
of scorpion that caused the sting may make treatment easier.
What a Doctor Will Do
Doctors treat someone stung by a scorpion with medications, if needed, that help
take pain away and control the body's reactions to the venom. They may give a medicine
) that fights the scorpion's venom to someone who doesn't get better with
the other medications.
How to Avoid Getting Stung
The best way to avoid getting stung by scorpions is to avoid the places where they
like to spend time. Don't play in junk piles or woodpiles, and if you are working
outside with big piles of logs, wear gloves. If you live in the American Southwest
and keep your shoes in a garage, basement, or mudroom, shake them out carefully before
putting them on.