Monday, September 3, 2007

Life Is Dangerous, Isn't It?

The brown crickets have continued to invade my yard and my house. Bonnie and Breezy have made it their nighttime pastime to guard the doors and try to catch any cricket stupid enough to enter. They rarely survive long enough for Gus and I to stomp on them, but occasionally they do.

Last Sunday night we returned from our evening walk to find Bonnie crouched in front of the linen closet. She was lashing her tail and patting at the bottom of the door. Assuming it was yet another cricket I opened the closet door to make it easier for her to catch the bug. It was dark and there were some rags on the floor of the closet, so I turned on the hall light and pulled the rags out. What I saw was not a cricket, but a translucent tan colored scorpion about 3 inches long! It turned to face me with its claws lifted and its tail curled over it's back. I am not the screaming kind of person, but I jumped back and exclaimed loudly. Gus came to see, then removed his shoe and squashed the arachnid for me. He said it splattered all over the closet. I didn't stay to see. I was ready to pack my bags and move back to Utah that very night!

As usual, I went to the Internet and did some research. I discovered our scorpion was indeed the most poisonous variety in Arizona, the Arizona Bark Scorpion. It is a creature that likes moisture and is found in riparian areas. It is also nocturnal, and guess what it's favorite food is? Brown crickets! However, no one has died from a Bark Scorpion sting since 1968. I also found out that so far, I am the only one to have seen a scorpion in this neighborhood. So, I am hoping it is a fluke and the scorpion washed down from the mountains with the rains. I was careful to wear shoes at night for a few days, but now I am back to my barefooted habits.

The scorpion unnerved me more than any other creature around here, for it seems more menacing to me. It is small and silent and creeps about in the night, hiding in crevices and folds of clothing. I could call an exterminator, but I don't want to live someplace I have to spray with poison all the time. So, I tried to put it all in perspective: I can live here in the desert with the potentially deadly creatures, or I can live in the city with the potentially deadly criminals. Life is fraught with danger. It is part of being alive. I can try to wrap myself in a safe cocoon, but even then danger can find me. So why not live life joyously and daringly and at least have a story to tell when I'm through.


Tony Heath said...

My advice is not to kill them but to capture them in a jar and release them to the desert as they are a part of the ecosystem, and like you, deserve to live. They are only trying to make a living. The same should be said for rattle snakes. If one shows up call your local fire department. Otherwise, watch where you step, especially at night, and you will be fine. They do not want to bite you and will rattle 99% of the time to warn you. Dogs can be snake-trained.

With scorpions, keep your house vacumed, dry (they are usually found around water), free of clutter and check your shoes before you put them on, and you shouldn't have a problem. I was bit by a large one once on the hand and it was no worse than a bee sting.

Hope this little lecture helps.

Kathie Brown said...


The scorpions are a bit hard for me to take. They seem more malicious than any other creature! It's hard for me to feel kind thoughts towards them, but I will try! As for the snakes, I actually did a reptile program when I was a volunteer naturalist, so some of what you mention is familiar to me. I didn't know I could call the fire department for them, however!

We did get our little dog vacinated against rattlers but unfortunaltey she had a strong reaction to the vaccine, which the vet says is very rare but gets worse with each booster shot, so we will not be able to get her re-vaccinated. She is mostly a house dog and we are very careful about where we walk her.

I have question for you, however: what danger to myself or my dog are coyotes? At night sometimes we hear the coyotes right in our neighborhood. Would they attack a small dog on a lease with a human attatched? I have also heard them during the day in the desert. Would they attack a human alone?