Are All Scorpions Poisonous?

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Scorpions are creepy critters that are part of the arachnid family, which includes spiders, mites, ticks, and more. Scorpions are characterized by their unique shape, which starts off bulky by their head and large pinchers, then becomes slender towards the end of their body with a five-segmented tail. Their tail contains a poison gland, otherwise known as a stinger, which injects venom into their prey or unsuspecting humans. Like spiders, scorpions have eight legs and several pairs of eyes, usually two to five pairs. However, they don’t see well and rely on their sense of touch to help them move and locate their prey. 

Scorpions prefer feeding on insects, such as ants and cockroaches, but will also eat lizards, spiders, and other scorpions if given the opportunity. They are opportunistic, nocturnal hunters who hide during the day and come out at night to hunt and overcome their prey. Scorpions will start by ambushing their prey, injecting them with venom, and waiting until they succumb to it. Then, they will tear their prey into chunks and feast. 

If you live in the desert or other areas with scorpions, you may wonder if all scorpions are poisonous and which types of scorpions are considered dangerous. 

Read on to learn more about the following scorpion topics: 

  • Are All Scorpions Poisonous?
  • Signs & Symptoms of Scorpion Stings
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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Table Of Contents

    Are All Scorpions Poisonous?

    For starters, let’s define the difference between venomous and poisonous. Poisonous animals, such as frogs, toads, or salamanders, are animals that spread their toxins to you when you eat them. Venomous animals, such as snakes or centipedes, are animals that spread their toxins to you through a bite or sting. So, scorpions are considered venomous because they spread their toxin to others through painful stings. 

    To answer the question fully, all scorpions are venomous. Scorpion venom is a neurotoxin, which causes a host of problems for the nervous system of the injected individual or animal. Scorpions use their venom when they ambush prey to subdue their prey until it’s no longer able to fight back, then they eat it. Generally, scorpions are not interested in stinging humans unless they feel threatened, which is why many scorpion stings occur when humans accidentally step on them or place a shoe or item of clothing on that has a scorpion hiding in it. 

    Although all scorpions are venomous, most species are relatively harmless to humans, although their stings are certainly still painful and uncomfortable. It’s estimated that only 30 to 40 species of scorpions are potentially life-threatening, and only one of these species currently lives in North America: the Arizona bark scorpion. Most life-threatening scorpion species live in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, North Africa, or South America. 

    The Arizona bark scorpion is found throughout the Southwest, including states like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Mexico. Arizona bark scorpions have caused fatalities previously, especially in young children. If you live in an area with Arizona bark scorpions, it’s crucial that you immediately take action if you find scorpions on your property. Whether this is using an ultraviolet light to find the scorpions and eliminate them, setting up insecticide, or contacting your local pest control professional, we strongly recommend not placing your family at risk of being stung by these painful critters, especially if you live near highly venomous scorpion species. 

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    Signs and Symptoms of Scorpion Stings

    Sometimes it’s obvious that you’ve been stung by a scorpion because you’ll see the scorpion scurrying away after delivering the painful sting. Other times, you’ll feel the pain but not see the responsible bug. So, how can you tell that you were stung by a scorpion, and what should you do if you’re stung? 

    Common signs of a scorpion sting include: 

    • Slight swelling at the sting site
    • Warmth at the sting site
    • Pain, which may be intense
    • Numbness
    • Tingling


    Severe symptoms of a scorpion sting include: 

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Sweating
    • Drooling
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Accelerated heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Restlessness (possibly uncontrolled crying in young children)
    • Unusual neck, head, and eye movements 
    • Muscle twitching
    • Thrashing around

    Like bee stings, some individuals may experience strong allergic reactions to scorpion stings, which is why it’s vital that you carefully monitor the situation. Those who experience allergic reactions may even go into anaphylaxis, which is why you should never leave a stung individual unsupervised. 

    Most healthy adults will not require more than basic first aid, although it’s advised that you call your doctor or poison control center for advice on this. If a young child, an elderly individual, or someone who is immunocompromised is stung, it’s recommended that you seek immediate medical care because the side effects are often considerably worse. If you have been stung by a venomous scorpion, such as the Arizona bark scorpion, we recommend immediately seeking medical attention as you may need antivenom administered. 

    Most life-threatening scorpion species live in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, North Africa, or South America.

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    Final Thoughts

    Some scorpions are highly venomous creatures that can cause intense pain and other severe symptoms with their stings. At worst, certain species of scorpions can even cause human fatality, whether this is because the scorpion is a highly venomous species or because the inflicted human experiences a severe allergic reaction to the scorpion sting. Regardless, if you are stung by a scorpion, immediately contact your poison control center or seek medical care. A doctor may choose to administer antivenom depending on your age, health, and the type of scorpion you were stung by. In other cases, they may treat you with painkillers and sedatives to help you cope with the intense pain that accompanies many scorpion stings. 

    If you find scorpions on your property, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local exterminator for help dealing with these dangerous pests. Scorpions aren’t a pest you want to tackle yourself, especially if you don’t have the proper protective gear.

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