Feared by many, the world over, scorpions are often seen as an enemy to man, with “man” looking for every opportunity available to exterminate one if need be. We do not think of scorpions as friendly animals.
Scorpions may have a bad reputation around the world and whether you agree with that or not; one thing we all agree with is that it is better to avoid them. Throughout the US, you will come across different species of scorpions with different colors to match their variety and often ranging between; brown, tan-brown, black, and dark brown.
Florida is the home to three common species of scorpions, the Centruroides gracilis commonly called the Florida bark scorpion or slender bark scorpion; others are the Centruroides hentzi commonly called the Hentz striped scorpion, and the Centruroides guianensis otherwise known as the Guiana striped scorpion.
Read on to learn about these three species of scorpions common to Florida.
Are Florida Scorpions Dangerous?
The answer depends on whether you are allergic to a scorpion sting or not. Florida bark scorpions are often described as nuisance species because they can sting or bite easily when disturbed. However, their venom is not fatal to humans and so you will only feel pain when stung by the slender bark species.
Hentz and Guiana striped scorpions are the most dangerous of the Florida scorpions because they have venoms that can affect your central nervous system, paralyzing your muscle, and even lead to death in severe rare cases.
If stung by any of these two species, you may feel numbness within a few minutes and there is the propensity for respiratory failure and convulsion if you are allergic to their venom.
How To Keep Safe From Florida Scorpions
Scorpions are not as dangerous as we may wish to believe. However, it is better to carry a flashlight if you must walk at night as well as wear closed-toe shoes since they are nocturnal animals and are only active at night to avoid stepping on one. Interestingly, the Florida scorpions don’t sting unless they feel threatened.
If you find any scorpion around your house or workplace, the smart choice is to contact a pest control company for removal. Don’t attempt to remove a scorpion by yourself if found lurking around your house unless you are trained to do so.
3 Scorpions Found in Florida
1. Florida Bark Scorpion (Centruroides gracilis)
The Centruroides gracilis or Florida bark scorpion is a scorpion species in the family Buthidae commonly referred to as the Florida bark scorpions because of their habitat. Contrary to its common name, it is not native to Florida but the Northern parts of the Middle Americas like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize.
The female of the species can grow up to about 4.9 inches (10 centimeters) long while the male can sometimes grow slightly longer and can exceed 5.9 inches (15 centimeters). The Florida scorpion is beautifully adorned with a variety of fine colors.
The Florida bark scorpion can sometimes have individuals of different colors in one population. The Florida bark scorpion is the largest species of scorpions you will see anywhere in Florida and its yellow dashes and light-colored legs set it apart from the other species of scorpion found in Florida.
The female Florida bark scorpion may reproduce between 25 to 35 liters of live babies. The juvenile undergoes their first molt when they are eight days of age riding on the female’s back as studies of scorpions in captivity proves. The juvenile may die of complications with the molting process while progressing through the instar stages.
The female Florida scorpion reaches sexual maturity at about 300 days after undergoing seven instars while the male matures at a different rate. The male Florida scorpion may reach maturity between 235 days of age at the sixth instar or 281 days of age after undergoing seven instars.
When it is time to mate, the male engages the female in courtship behavior and produces spermatophores in the process while the female reproduces via pathogenesis.
The male Florida bark scorpion averages a life span of about 2 years and 9 months years and may live up to five years if the conditions in its habitat allows while the female lives longer with an average life span of about 3 years and 2 months.
This species of scorpion feeds on Florida spiders, termites, and other smaller insects like roaches while the captive Florida scorpion can be fed termites or crickets depending on which is available.
The Centruroides gracilis is commonly called the Florida bark scorpion because of its habitat. It is commonly found in tree barks and sometimes they live under rocks. If needs arise, the brown bark scorpion can live under debris or rubbish piles around the house and in the walls of houses.
The predators of this scorpion species are mainly tarantulas such as the Tlitocat vagans. Though the scorpion may attack first, the tarantulas usually prevail, killing the scorpion. The Florida bark scorpion is also preyed upon by lizards, birds, and centipedes.
People all over the world are more concerned with how venomous a scorpion sting can be because people fear that they can be stung to death by a scorpion. This article will not be complete if we don’t make mention of the Florida bark scorpion’s venom.
The scorpion isn’t as venomous as the other species of Florida scorpions and the venom is less toxic. Interestingly, none of the three species of scorpions listed in this article is capable of producing a fatal sting. However, while the sting may not be lethal, it can be painful and may cause some swelling or allergic reactions and in a severe case can produce cardiac effects.
The slender bark scorpion is not known to be aggressive but may produce a sting when trapped or pinned against the skin.
This species of Florida scorpions can be found in all southern states where the climate tends to remain tropical for most the year.
2. Hentz striped scorpion (Centruroides hentzi)
The Hentz striped scorpion is a member of the genus Centruroides and belongs to the family Buthidae, the same as the other scorpion species in Florida. The Hentz striped scorpion is by far the most common in Florida. The Hentz striped scorpion is the smallestFlorida scorpion in terms of size.
The Hentz striped scorpion is also beautifully colored with a range of multiple colors existing in one population. Its color could be dark brown or tan brown with a green-yellow stripe on its midsection. An adult Hentz striped scorpion can grow up to 3 inches (7.62 centimeters). This species of scorpion is distinguished from the other species in Florida by its slender abdomen and the tooth behind its venom bulb.
The Hentz striped scorpion, unlike most species of scorpion, is a social animal and this presents the perfect opportunity to compete for mates as well as to mate. Interestingly, the Hentz striped scorpion has an intricate and extensive process of reproduction which begins when the males establish behavioral dominance to mate.
This behavioral dominance leads to a showdown between two males and it is highlighted by tail-waving and shifting until one male backs down for the other male. Once the showdown is over, the victorious male engages the female in the first stage of courtship where he must lure the female to a spot where he can deposit his spermatophore.
If he is successful in luring the female, the male and female will move on to join together in the next reproduction stage. The gestation stage takes about 8 months. After birth, the birthed scorpions live on the back of their mother for at least one molt for protection.
The Hentz striped scorpion feeds on cockroaches and other smaller insects. The Hentz striped scorpion also feeds on spiders and other smaller scorpions.
The Hentz striped scorpions are commonly found under stones and other debris on the ground. It is also a nocturnal animal and so is only active at night.
This species of Florida scorpions are preyed upon mostly by tarantulas, lizards, birds especially owls, and centipedes.
This species of scorpion is venomous but the venom is less toxic than other species of scorpions around the world. Interestingly, none of the three species of Florida scorpions can produce a fatal sting.
The sting, however, can be painful and may even cause some swelling or sensitive reactions, and only in severe cases especially when a victim is allergic to its venom can the sting of a Hentz striped scorpion result in cardiac effects on the victims of its sting.
This scorpion is found in other places beyond Florida, they include; Southern Georgia and Southeastern Alabama, and other parts of the US.
3. Guina striped scorpion (Centruroides guianensis)
The Guiana striped scorpion isn’t just the rarest, it also doubles as the most dangerous scorpion species in Florida. The adult Guiana striped scorpion can grow up to four inches long (10.16 centimeters). The Guiana striped scorpion is of all the scorpion species in Florida is the only species adorned in black coloration; however, with a pinch of purple stripes running from its head down to other parts of its body including its legs and tail.
Guiana striped scorpions may live up to five years. The male and female Guiana striped scorpions go through a wooing cycle before mating can occur. The young Guina striped scorpion is born alive. After birth, the young Guiana striped scorpions climb on the back of their mother and remain there until after their first molt.
This species of Florida scorpions feed on insects and smaller arachnids.
The Guiana striped scorpion like the other two species of Florida scorpions is nocturnal and so hides in dark places like rocks, logs, or wood piles during the day then comes out at night to hunt for prey.
The Guiana striped scorpion is preyed on by birds, reptiles, bigger arachnids, and some mammals.
The Guiana striped scorpion is the most dangerous of all the Florida scorpions and that’s because they possess neurotoxic venom that can affect your central nervous system or paralyze your muscles if you are allergic to their venom and it can even lead to death if you do not seek medical help immediately after the sting.
The Guiana striped scorpion, unlike the other species of Florida scorpions, lives near water. Hence, it can be found in areas near the borders of Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana where many rainforest or swampy areas can be found.