When examining the question “what do scorpions look like,” it helps to understand that most scorpions can easily be described as having a ‟crab-like” appearance. Scorpions have eight legs, a set of claws (or pincers), and a segmented tail that has a barbed stinger at the tip. They don’t see very well, even though they have one set of eyes in the center of their head, and as many as two to five rows of eyes along each side of their head. While the scorpion is in motion, the pincers are extended outward and the stinger is curved upward toward its head.
Common species of scorpions
So, what do scorpions look like individually? Due to the large number of species, an extensive answer would be required. The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) gives details on the most commonly encountered species, saying:
Here’s how the UC IPM website describes these scorpions:
- BARK SCORPIONS
The bark scorpion is found throughout Arizona, in the southeastern portion of California and in southwestern New Mexico. This species is a solid yellow color with no other distinctive markings. As adults they are typically 3 inches long with a thin tail. This type of scorpion readily climbs and prefers to nest under tree bark as their name would imply.
- ARIZONA HAIRY SCORPION
This species inhabits areas of southern California and is found throughout Arizona. At maturity this scorpion can reach 5 to 7 inches long. Their bodies are brown in color while their pincers are yellow. The body is noticeably covered with brown hairs. This scorpion lives in burrows but can also be seen living under rocks or piles of rubble.
- STRIPEDTAIL SCORPION
This is one of the most common types found in Arizona, southern California and throughout the United States. This type is only 2 to 2 and ½ inches long. It is tan to yellow in color with a triangular marking between the eyes. It’s appropriately named because of the dark stripes that run across each segment of its body. It prefers to burrow in sandy soil but can sometimes be found in rocky terrain.
Scorpions are skilled hunters and are most active at night. They hide in burrows within the soil or other hidden nesting areas (e.g., beneath rocks, rubble, logs, etc.) Some nest in trees and heavy foliage. Any pile of debris can be home to scorpions. They prefer to live outdoors, but will occasionally wander into structures in search of shelter when flooding occurs. They also come inside when they are in need of water during periods of drought.
It’s important to note that all scorpions have a poisonous sting, however most cause humans little more than the slight pain and discomfort that’s associated with a bee sting. The most venomous scorpion in North America is the bark scorpion. A sting from this predator can cause severe pain, numbness and vomiting that can last 48 to 72 hours. If you get stung by a scorpion, contact a medical professional immediately.
‟What does a scorpion look like” is a valid question to ask if you suspect one or more of these menacing-looking creatures are lurking in or around home. Why not leave the identification to a pest management specialist? The professionals at Terminix® are always ready to assist you.