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10 Species of Scorpions in Arizona (With Pictures)

Scorpions are fascinating animals known for their long tails with a stinger at the end. Despite looking like small land lobsters with large pincers, they are arachnids closely related to spiders. There are various species of scorpions in Arizona, including one of the most venomous ones found in North America.

Arizona has three major deserts that are optimal habitats for scorpions: the Chihuahuan, Mojave, and Sonoran. With the Sonoran being so massive, it takes up most of the central and southwest parts of the state. Although scorpions tend to stay in their natural environments, you can also find them wandering up plumping and into homes at night. However, you can easily track them out since they glow fluorescent blue under ultraviolet light (UV).

10 Species of Scorpions in Arizona

There are as many as 60 species of scorpions in Arizona, in this article we will look at 10 of them. Let’s learn about what these species are and how venomous they are to humans.

1. Arizona Bark Scorpion

Arizona bark scorpion
Arizona Bark Scorpion | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Centruroides sculpturatus
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

As their name suggests, the Arizona bark scorpions enjoy living in or around tree bark. They tend to live in rocky desert areas and are commonly found in the Grand Canyon, especially by streams. However, you can also find them inside homes since they commonly climb vertical surface areas. These scorpions are yellowish-tan with small pincers and slender, long tails. Some of them can have striped patterns.

This species is the most venomous in Northern America. Although generally not life-threatening, the venom of this species can cause painful swelling, muscle spasms, paralyzed extremities, and breathing difficulties. Some people say being stung feels like an electrocution jolt. It is recommended you seek medical attention immediately.

2. Arizona Giant Hairy Scorpion

Giant hairy scorpion
Giant hairy scorpion | image credit: Joshua Tree National Park via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Hadrurus arizonensis
  • Size: up to 6 inches
  • Venomous: Yes, mild

The Arizona giant hairy scorpion is one of the largest scorpions in the U.S. They average at 5 inches in length, with some growing bigger, up to 6 inches. Since it is so big, it often eats other scorpions, small mammals, and lizards. Although their sting is deadly to their prey, it only causes mild pain for humans.

These scorpions are typically yellow with a dark top and brown hairs covering their bodies, giving them their name. You can find them in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, where they enjoy burrowing into the earth to the moisture line underground. They can burrow up to 8 feet deep.

3. Arizona Stripetail Scorpion

Arizona stripetail scorpion
Arizona stripetail scorpion | image by gilaman via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Paravaejovis spinigerus
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Venomous: Yes, mild

The Arizona stripetail scorpion is also sometimes called the devil scorpion. Its venom is far less harmful than most other scorpions. If you get stung, you will experience a mild discomfort and it’s not medically significant. This scorpion is yellowish-tan in color with a thick tail that has brown stripes on it.

Although averaging 2 inches in length, females can grow up to 2.7 inches. You can often find them living in the Sonoran desert, hiding under rocks or even sleeping bags. These scorpions are also known to feed on other scorpions found in Arizona.

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4. Yellow Ground Scorpion

Yellow scorpion
Yellow scorpion | image by gilaman via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Paravaejovis confusus
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The yellow ground scorpion, also known as the yellow devil scorpion, is pale and yellowish in color and looks similar to the Arizona bark scorpion. The main difference is they have longer and wider abdominal segments. The tips of their pinchers and stingers can also have a reddish tint. Although their sting is painful, it is not considered life-threatening.

These scorpions typically live in southeastern Arizona. You can find them in the desert and high mountain habitats. However, they are mainly observed in June and September.

5. Northern Scorpion

  • Scientific name: Paruroctonus boreus
  • Size: up to 2.16 inches
  • Venomous: Yes, mild

The adult Northern Scorpion size ranges between 1.37 to 2.16 inches. These scorpions are typically black, brown, ivory, or yellow with brownish-yellow stripes. If you get stung, it can result in redness, swelling, and pain in the sting area. However, with a cold press, the swelling should reduce within 24 to 72 hours.

You can commonly find these scorpions in mountainous regions and the high elevations of Arizona. These scorpions are also very cold-tolerant and one of the only species you can find in Canada during the dry season.

6. Dune Scorpion

Dune scorpion
Dune scorpion | image by Vahe Martirosyan via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Smeringurus mesaensis
  • Size: 2.8 inches
  • Venomous: Yes

The dune scorpion, also known as the giant sand scorpion, is mostly found in the desert regions. As their name suggests, they prefer habitats with dunes so they can dig into the sediment and sand.

These scorpions average 2.8 inches in length. Females are typically larger than males, however, the males will have larger pinchers. Their color is typically darker brownish-gray. These scorpions will sting you if disturbed or threatened, so try not to handle them. Their sting is painful and has been compared to hornet stings.

7. Arizona Smoothclaw Scorpion

  • Scientific name: Diplocentrus spitzeri
  • Size: up to 2.05 inches
  • Venomous: Yes, very mild

You can find the Arizona smoothclaw scorpion throughout Arizona, typically at medium elevations. They prefer hiding under bark, rocks, and leaf litter in the daytime. Like most scorpions, they are nocturnal and come out to hunt at night.

These scorpions generally have a brown body with yellowish-brown legs. They grow between 1.57 and 2.05 inches in length. Some people have reported their stings barely hurt, is similar to an ant sting, and the redness at the sting site went away after 10 seconds. Although it is possible this was only a warning sting, since scorpions can control the amount of venom in their stings.

8. Black-Back Scorpion

Black-back scorpion
Black-back scorpion | image by Matt Reinbold via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name:  Hadrurus spadix
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Venomous: Yes, mild

The black-back scorpion is also called the northern desert hairy scorpion and black hairy scorpion. As their name suggests, the black-back scorpion has a black body with lighter, yellowish extremities. They are large in size, similar to the Arizona giant hairy scorpion. However, their range extends more north of the U.S.

These scorpions prey on anything they can catch. Their large size allows them to eat other scorpions, mice, snakes, and lizards. They are burrowing scorpions that spend their time in deserts digging in the sand. Although their sting is quite painful, their toxicity to humans is considered low, and they can make good pets for beginners.

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9. Walnut Gulch Scorpion

  • Scientific name: Serradigitus miscionei
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Venomous: Yes, very mild

The Walnut Gulch scorpion is a rare species that can only be found in southern Arizona. They were recently discovered along the walls of San Pedro River in 2011 and commonly live near other rivers in the area. Unlike most scorpions that enjoy the flat desert sands, this species prefers vertical sand surfaces.

These small 1-inch scorpions are reddish, brown and average one inch in length. They prey mainly on small invertebrates and their venom is not considered medically threatening to humans or pets, such as dogs.

10. Superstition Mountains Scorpion

Superstition mountains scorpion
Superstition mountains scorpion | image by Don Loarie via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific name: Superstitionia donensis
  • Size: up to 1 inch
  • Venomous: Yes

As their name suggests, you can find this species living in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. They were first discovered in 1940 and enjoy hiding near plants or under rocks in desert habitats. This species is also mostly cave-dwelling.

These small scorpions grow up to only one inch and don’t have lateral eyes. Their bodies are brownish and typically lack pigmentation, looking quite shiny in appearance. This allows them to live in caves effectively. Their venom can cause humans pain, redness, and swelling.