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Scorpions In North Carolina (Pictures & Facts)

Scorpions are arachnids, characterized by 8 legs and a pair of pincers on the front 2 legs. These creatures live on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Fossil records date the existence of scorpions as far back as 450 million years ago. It’s believed that they originated in the ocean.

There are 1300 species on Earth. Of those, 90 can be found in the United States. Only 5 are found east of the Mississippi. Most scorpions live in deserts, savannas, and grasslands. In this article, we are looking the scorpions in North Carolina.

Scorpions In North Carolina

There is only one native species of scorpion in North Carolina that will be discussed below. However, there will also be facts about the abundant Pseudoscorpion and 2 other species that have, on rare occasions, been found due to migration. We’ll also learn some general facts about scorpions in general.

1. Southern Unstriped Scorpion

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

Scientific name: Vaejovis carolinianus

This scorpion is also known as the Southern Devil scorpion and has the honor of being the only true native scorpion in North Carolina. It’s primarily found in the western part of North Carolina. This mountainous region is a unique place for the normally desert-dwelling scorpion to take up residence.

The Southern Devil is a dark, reddish-brown color. Its short legs are brown. Size ranges from 1.5 to just over 3 inches.  The tail is broad and contains a large stinger.

A sting from the Southern Devil is not lethal to humans, but it is extremely painful. The area will become swollen and could be tender for quite some time.

The Southern Devil does not set out to attack people. In North Carolina, you won’t even see them during the day as they rest under leaf piles, rocks, logs, and wood stacks.

Campers and stargazers may encounter them. Sometimes they may crawl into a tent and hide in a shoe or a hat. You may also encounter them in your cellar, crawl spaces, and sheds.

The scorpion will sting its prey of spiders and insects and then use its pincers to tear it apart. Females can give birth to between 25 to 80 offspring.

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: Pseudoscorpianes

Also known as Book scorpions. No bigger than a 1/4 inch, these tiny arachnids share the scorpion name due to its similarities to the true scorpion.

With its reddish-brown segmented body, eight legs, pincers, and teardrop-shaped body, they look like mini scorpions. However, they lack a tail and stinger.

Oddly, they do have venom in those wee claws that they use to kill mites. These false scorpions, as they are also known, are plentiful in the mountain regions of North Carolina.

Harmless to humans, they are actually quite helpful. These scorpion-like creatures will eat the larvae of clothes moths, booklice, ants, and beetle larvae.

3. Striped Bark Scorpion

Bark scorpion
Striped Bark Scorpion | image by Clinton & Charles Robertson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Centruroides vittatus

The Striped Bark scorpion is not native to or abundant in North Carolina, but it has been found there. Commonly found in the middle United States, these scorpions have been found in the North Carolina counties of Dare, Nash, and Wake.

It is believed they rode along in transport trucks to get to their new home. Though not large in numbers in the state, researchers state that their population has the potential to increase.

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It is considered a medium-sized scorpion at 2.75 inches. This scorpion is yellow and has two dark stripes. A diet of insects and small arachnids keep it full.

The sting of this scorpion is rarely deadly but can cause intense pain and swelling.

4. Hentz Striped Scorpion

Hentz striped scorpion
Hentz Striped Scorpion | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Centruroides hentzi

This is another scorpion that is not native to North Carolina but has been found sporadically in the state over the past several years. It’s thought to have hitched rides on lumber trucks and luggage from its native Florida.

This species averages about 3 inches, has a reddish brown or tan color and has stripes across its back. Their diet consists of roaches, insects, spiders, and smaller scorpions.

Hentz scorpions are venomous, but a sting from them will usually only cause some pain and swelling.

General Facts About Scorpions

From their mating practices to the extent of their venom toxicity, check out these 9 general facts about scorpions you may find interesting to know.

Dune scorpion
Dune scorpion | image by Vahe Martirosyan via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  1. Scorpions have a fluorescent chemical that makes them glow in the dark under ultraviolet light.
  2. Male and female scorpions will “dance” before mating. Holding each other’s pincers, they will rotate back and forth.
  3. Some scorpions can go up to a year without food. A slow metabolism makes this possible.
    Black scorpion hiding
    Black scorpion hiding | image by Thomas Quine via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  4. Scorpions with small claws and large stingers are more venomous than scorpions with large claws and small stingers.
  5. The average lifespan of a scorpion is 5 years.
  6. The Deathstalker scorpion, which is found in North Africa and the Middle East, is one of the deadliest on earth!
    Deathstalker scorpion
    Deathstalker scorpion | image by מינוזיג via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  7. 30 to 40 scorpion species have stings strong enough to kill humans.
  8. Scorpion venom can be helpful to humans. It’s been used in the treatment of certain cancers, as well as malaria and arthritis.
  9. Scorpions are quite resilient to harsh temperature changes. Scientists have found scorpions frozen overnight, put them in the sun, and watched them walk away.