A recent survey found that scorpions are more commonly feared than spiders, at least when it comes to American college students. This fear is justified, as scorpion related health emergencies are far more common than medical emergencies involving spiders and insects. In fact, scorpion stings are even more prevalent than snake bites. Here in the United States, scorpions are by no means rare, as there exists numerous different scorpion species dwelling along the southern most American states from California and Arizona, where scorpion species are most diverse and abundant, to North Carolina and Tennessee. The farther east one travels along the southern US border, the more benign scorpion species become. While there exists two scorpion species in the US that have the potential to kill humans, the most dangerous scorpion species is undoubtedly the Arizona bark scorpion. Although the rate of scorpion related injuries is high in the US when compared to other arthropod fatalities, the countries of Africa, India, the Middle East, Mexico, and South America see much higher scorpion fatality rates.
When taking the entire world into account, the annual rate of scorpion stings is around 1.2 million and 3,250 of these stings result in death. To put this in perspective, for every person killed by a snake, ten people are killed by a scorpion sting. The country of Mexico has a particularly high rate of scorpion related fatalities, as these fierce looking arachnids take the lives of 1000 people every year in the country. Considering that the US shares a border with Mexico, one would think that the rate of scorpion fatalities would be be as high in the US as it is in Mexico, but this is not the case, as only 4 scorpion related deaths have occured in the US during the past 11 years. California and Arizona see the greatest number of scorpion related hospital visits, while the scorpion species in the southeast US are largely harmless and rarely seen.
Have you ever spotted a scorpion species in the southeast US?