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Are There Scorpions in Kentucky?

Scorpions are rather intimidating creatures armed with large claw-like pinchers and a menacing stinger on its tail. Despite their scary appearance, scorpions pose little threat to humans, but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying to people who are not familiar with them.

Additionally, most people assume that these arachnids are found only in desert regions and far from their home. But did you know that there are scorpions in Kentucky?

The Scorpions in Kentucky

Scorpions in Kentucky are not as common of a sight as their close relative, the spider, but that doesn’t mean they are not found in various parts of the state. In fact, there is one true scorpion species found in Kentucky and it is actually only found in a few counties in the state.

Let’s take a look at this lone scorpion species that calls Kentucky its home, and one other arachnid that is commonly mistaken for a scorpion. 

1. Southern Devil Scorpion

Southern unstriped scorpion
Southern Unstriped or Devil Scorpion | image by Christina Butler via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Vaejovis carolinianus

The Southern Devil Scorpion is the only true scorpion in Kentucky. Fully grown, the Southern Devil Scorpion reaches about 2-inches long and is found in various states across the USA, including Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

In Kentucky, the Southern Devil Scorpion is generally found near the Cumberland River and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They typically hide under loose bark, logs, and rocks during the day and wait until nightfall to hunt for their prey.

Leaf litter is another favorite hiding spot for these arachnids. These scorpions can sometimes be found indoors in dark, humid areas, such as cellars and crawlspaces.

Like other species of scorpions, the Southern Devil preys on small insects and spiders. They have a reddish or dusty brown-colored body.

While they are not considered dangerous to humans, care should still be taken when handling these scorpions. Experts recommend not handling it with your bare hands and instead use a container to herd the scorpion in.

The Southern Devil scorpion will also illuminate under a black light. This is a feature that all scorpions have and it makes them appear as if they “glow in the dark.

This species is also commonly kept as a pet. However, the Southern Devil scorpion can sometimes be aggressive, so keep that in mind if you do try to capture one.

They can sting

Stings from this archanid is not unheard, but they are also not too common. The venom from the Southern Devil scorpion isn’t fatal, and beside mild pain from the sting, you may experience swelling, tenderness, and redness.

Medical attention is not typically needed unless the symptoms persist for several days or they start to get worse. This could indicate that you are allergic to scorpion venom, which can be dangerous.

Even though they are not generally harmful to humans, that doesn’t mean you want them in your home. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to keep scorpions in Kentucky out of your home. This includes utilizing glue traps and sealing cracks and small gaps that would allow for insects such as scorpions to enter your home.

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2. Pseudoscorpion

Pseudoscorpion found in a cellar
Pseudoscorpion found in a cellar | image by Andy Murray via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Pseudoscorpiones

Also known as false scorpions, pseudoscorpions are often confused with true scorpions, and for good reason. Pseudoscorpions look eerily similar to true scorpions, just at a much smaller size.

They are also found throughout the United States. They thrive in areas with high level of humidity and are often found in moss and leaf litter, under stones and tree bark, and even in nests of mammals and birds.

Pseudoscorpions measure about 1/8 inch, but do have pincers filled with venom to subdue their prey. Their reddish brown body is oval or teardrop in shape and has a flattened appearance. Because of their small size, they are also sometimes confused for a tick.

In fact, if they didn’t have those scorpion-like pinchers, they would like extremely similar to a tick. Thankfully, these tiny predators cannot harm humans or pets as they cannot bite or sting us.

Pseudoscorpions aren’t dangerous

These small fake scorpions are neither destructive nor dangerous, and they actually feed on small insects that we consider pests, such as flies, beetle larvae, ants, booklice, and caterpillars. In most cases, you have pseudoscorpions in your yard and don’t even know it.

One thing these fake scorpions have that true scorpions don’t is they can make silk in a similar way to spiders. Unlike spiders, however, they don’t use this silk to make webs to catch their meals, instead they use it to make a cocoon-like shelter to protect them from the weather.

Pseudoscropions are not harmful to humans and pose no risk to you and your family. They are predators, however, and feast on a wide array of household insects, which means they often make their way into homes. They can even hitch a ride on various other insects, such as flies, and be brought inside.