Back to Nature (Published on - Aug. 25, 2005)
Creepy crawlies
Photo by Rick Tremmel
For the most part, the sting of the Florida scorpion is not harmful, but they sure make good stories when sitting around a campfire.
Florida Crackers and Native Indians have many creepy crawly stories to tell if you have a sit-down on a hot day with a couple of cold drinks.

“It had large pinchers in the front, six pairs of eyes, eight legs, two lobster like legs and two regular legs, and a long tail tipped with a venomous stinger.”

Yikes … a grade B movie?

“We were camping, me and the wife. She’s out there making breakfast and the smell of bacon frying was callin’ to my senses,” the tanned-faced Indian man recalled. “The morning was still damp and chilly, so I pulled on my jeans and shirt in a hurry. I sat down on the bench to take a sip of my coffee when all of a sudden I felt something big crawling up inside of my pant leg. I guess I must have scared my wife near to death when I went rolling over backward and hopped to my feet tugging and trying to get out of my pants as fast as possible. Before I could get them off that thing got me twice right there on the side of my leg.”

Most Florida and Georgian scorpions are harmless unless the person stung presents an allergic reaction. I say most because unfortunately with the exotic pet trade, the escapee scorpion you may have been stung by may not be native. Many species are innocuous, or nonpoisonous. (If you suspect you’re allergic call for help and get to the nearest hospital emergency room, immediately.) Otherwise Florida native scorpions aren’t able to produce a fatal sting.

According to the University of Florida, of 90 U.S. scorpion species, only four occur east of the Mississippi River. And, only one of the 90 domestic scorpions, can kill people. This killer species is usually found in the southwestern United States.

“Scorpions … don’t even mention those things to me. I was laying on the beach near an old boardwalk and felt something sting my neck as I rolled over on my pillow,” accounted a middle aged woman while we sat across from each other in a restaurant. “More people in Florida should be aware that there are scorpions in Florida. Anyway it felt like a hot flame. I screamed in pain. They called the paramedics and took me to the hospital. I had an allergic reaction to its sting, but I’m also allergic to bee stings. Did you know … they have 12 eyes.”

Sounds like the plot for a horror film? No, it’s just a harmless Florida scorpion.

The nocturnal scorpions live for between three to five years and their young are born live. The scorpion loves to hide where they are most likely to find their food sources – insects, spiders, or smaller animal life – under logs, debris, and planters. USF suggests that termites are the captive scorpion’s favorite food. Taking care of termites, rubbish, debris, stacked wood and logs will help make your property less attractive to scorpions and their prey.

Scorpion pinchers are crayfish like, abdomen is segmented, narrow; and the stinger is at the tip of its curving tail. The scorpion sting is followed by a sharp pain or intense burning sensation and a lump. Conventional treatment methods include placing an ice pack on the site of the sting and pain relievers to ease the pain, as well, antihistamines, Calamine or Caladryl and cortisone creams. Wash the wound well to lesson the possibility of secondary infection. Folklore remedies include putting chewed tobacco or ammonia on the site of the sting.

According to my Cherokee grandmother, the tobacco must be chewed and mixed with saliva. You can be the judge of which method you choose to use, but I’ll bet tobacco and a little spit just might be the easiest thing around to find in a pinch and an emergency.

Smiling … back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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