Monday, June 15, 2015

The Bad in Arizona by Marion Ekholm


I was relaxing in my chair in my living room when I noticed a slight discoloration in my beige rug. When I got up to check it out, I found a scorpion about an inch and a half long, just a little darker than the rug. I got my pinchers and picked it up, deposited it in a plastic container and quickly put on a cover. Mr. Scorpion did not appreciate it and zoomed wildly around the airtight container. Days later, I still wasn’t sure if it was dead even though it no longer moved. Do scorpions have lungs and require oxygen? Ten days later I opened the cover to take his picture. No food, no water, no air, and he was still alive. Scary.
 

I’ve had some experience with scorpions in the past, so even though I loathe them, I know what to do. I’ve been bitten twice, both times in the foot. The first time I was taking the trash out at night, in the dark in my bare feet when I was new to Arizona. Talk about stupid. I didn’t see the culprit, but felt the sting – and felt it for several hours after that. I called poison control and found it wasn’t necessary to go to an emergency room unless my condition worsened. The pain is very distinctive, pulsating in and out. Aspirin or Tylenol can be taken for relief, and it was also suggested that I get a Tetanus shot, which I did.

The second time I was stung, I was barefoot again, but this time in my bedroom. This scorpion we caught and killed. Twenty plus years at that house and I only came across two scorpions. My new apartment has had two sightings in five years. The first time my son was visiting, sleeping on a mat on the living room floor when something crawled on him. When he turned on the light, he found the scorpion. These creep him out, but it didn’t bother him at all when he went searching for tarantulas in the desert.

He and a friend thought they’d find desert tarantulas and sell them. He found one hairy dark fellow under a rock, brought it to his sister’s apartment and deposited it in a small barred cage meant for mice. But when he went to show his sister, no tarantula sat in the cage. He was in mortal danger. Not from a tarantula’s sting, which isn’t as lethal as a scorpion’s, but his sister was furious. She taught Wing Chun and had broken a wooden dummy with her blows. He managed to make a quick exit. Two weeks later she found the tarantula under some clothes.

Although scorpions and tarantulas exist here, they aren’t too much of a problem. Just remember to wear shoes!  And check those shoes before slipping your feet into them!

37 comments:

  1. Marion I don't envy you the scorpions. I haven't seen any around my place here. I did have a run-in with a tarantula, and I hate, hate, hate spiders of any size. When I lived in Phoenix and my H.S. age daughter was going with a two-state group to Europe the parents and kids all met at a formerly closed resort south of the city. We all took lawn chairs. The kids swam and parents had lectures. The grass where our chairs were hadn't been cut. I had on sandals and was bitten by something the poison center at the college finally decided was a poisonous centipede. My foot swelled, got hot, I had fever and dizziness and vomiting. I had volunteered to make the holders for all of the kids' ID cards and about fell off my chair while sewing them. I had to miss the big banquet before they left. At first the doctor thought it might be a brown recluse bite, but once they tested the venom, they settled on the centipede. I was sick for almost two weeks. So the desert isn't always a friendly place. But I know people who have been stung by scorpions while climbing Piastiwa (sp) Peak.

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    1. A poisonous centipede! I had no idea we had those. Your experience sounds horrible. I know you hate spiders so I wasn't sure you'd stick around to make a comment once you saw that scorpion.

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  2. Oh.My.Goodness. I guess I can mark Arizona off my places I might live someday. :-) The worst bite I've ever gotten was a bee sting when I was fifteen. I was barefoot, of course--I mean, it was June in Memphis. My foot swelled double and stayed that way for a couple of days. I steer clear of bees now. And rarely go barefoot outside anymore.

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    1. One of my friends was stung by a bee and swelled so badly, her mother had trouble getting her into the car to get her to the hospital. It nearly killed her, and she’s had to carry medication with her from then on in case she gets stung again.

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  3. I'm in Chandler Arizona which is known for tons of scorpions. I hate them too and am very afraid of them. We have a pincher stick that allows you to squeeze them to death without getting close to them! Haha works for me! We now have a wonderful exterminator and we have only found two dead scorpions in the house. Now that the high heat has arrived, I'm praying the chemicals keep them out of my house! Wear your shoes outside!!!

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    1. I don’t like the surprise. One minute you feel safe and secure and the next that rotten little thing is walking around like it owns the world.

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  4. Ten days with no water, air or food...that's freaky! I think I'd have to sleep with one eye open, if I lived in Arizona. I have visited several times, it's beautiful.

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    1. It's now been over three weeks. He's sitting in the container on my kitchen counter. Every few days I pick it up and shake it. His tail curls around and up and his front legs begin to move. Fascinating creature. So glad he's contained.

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  5. Marion, that creeps me out. I'm with Patricia and am going to cross Arizona off of my places to maybe live someday list! I've visited a couple times and thought it was gorgeous, but I love the green of the PNW. I also like to go barefoot and am afraid if I lived there I might have to even sleep with my shoes on!

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    1. In 25 years I've come across 4 scorpions. No problem if you keep your shoes on.

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  6. Thank you, Marion! You've provided me with a logical, truthful excuse I can use next time our friends invite us to spend the summer with them in Arizona: SCORPIONS and TARANTULAS! I'm with Carol...if I lived there, I'd probably sleep with my shoes on. Nix that. I'd sleep in a suit of armor! (Air conditioned, of course.)

    Wishing you a wonderful week that's 100% free of creepy-things!

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    1. I'd be more concerned with what Roz said - poisonous centipedes. Never saw one but she suffered terribly for two weeks when she was bitten. I only had a few hours of discomfort. And people actually have tarantulas as pets!

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  7. Note to self: do not move to Arizona.

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    1. Most people who come to visit never see any scorpions.

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  8. Scorpions, ugh! We have them here in TN too but they're very dark, almost black, and smaller than the ones in AZ. Our exterminator keeps the population down though I sometimes find one here and there in a poor state of health. After my very first sighting, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was told I was right, though, and that ours are not poisonous. On my last visit to AZ to visit family, I got stung or bitten by something when I took a shortcut off the sidewalk through a small desert garden. The next morning I had six little blisters in a horseshoe shape on my leg. That sore as it healed became the size of a nickel and red--and took over six months to go away. I still have a little scar. But no idea what the source of the "bite" was. My doc couldn't identify it either. Weird.

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    1. Very weird. I wonder if it could have been a black widow spider or a brown recluse. We have those, too. I know when my sister-in-law was bitten by a brown recluse, back in New York, she suffered for about that amount of time, but I don’t remember what the bite looked like.

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    2. Thanks, Marion. Maybe it was a spider. I'd been sitting at an outdoor table, my legs up on the supports, right before that stroll thru the garden. Thank goodness I didn't get any other symptoms other than that local reaction. I do love AZ.

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  9. Oh, gosh, I am such a wuss when it comes to any kind of sting--I can't even imagine a scorpion!

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    1. I’m more afraid of a yellow jacket. When they zero in on you, they don’t give up.

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  10. Scorpions are such alien, scary-looking things. We found one in our basement in Prescott, but haven't ever seen another. So glad you won this battle.

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    1. They are horrible looking. I was born in November, and I hate having the scorpion as my astrology sign.

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  11. Give me the PNW with its rain and mudslides. We have no poisonous snakes. Not sure about scorpions or tarantulas, but I don't think so. In the fall, we have those huge dog spiders all over the place, and though they're ugly, I don't think they hurt you. We're more afraid of Californians. Ha, ha!

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    1. Those Californians are always a threat!

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  12. My brother would also be very dead if he brought a tarantula into my house and it got loose! I am not a fan of anything creepy and crawly. Good on you for even being able to capture that thing. i would have had to call in support!

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  13. I have these pinchers I can use to pick up anything too far to reach. Works wonders.

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  14. My husband and I have been discussing where we should by a "winter" property. Arizona has been high on his list. I'll have him read your post and see if he reassesses!

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    1. Arizona is a wonderful place. My friend was telling me thanks - for discouraging people from coming here because it’s getting too crowded. But there’s no other place I’d rather live and I’ve lived in 7 different states.

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    2. Well, that just seals the deal, Marion!

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  15. Wow...I didn't know that some of them are so tiny. I could easily miss spotting one especially if I don't have my contact lenses in. I stepped on a waterbug in our condo in NY once with my bare foot because I was cleaning up without my glasses on or contacts in and didn't see it. (Whenever it rained one always made its way inside...I don't know how.) It was in the carpet as well. When I stepped on it it felt hard like glass so I bent down to pick it up thinking it was just some object that fell in the carpet. When it ran I was so grossed out I never forgot it. Fortunately the cat got it. In NC we have all sorts of critters like brown recluse spiders, but no scorpions. I think I might take them over waterbugs though....yuck!!

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    1. The insect I hated in New York City was the cockroach. Part of the problem came from leaving food out for our cats. I'd go into the kitchen and walk into a Hitchcock movie.

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  16. The bees in Philadelphia freak me out!

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    1. Once they start buzzing around you, it becomes difficult to get away. And any attempt to swat at them makes them angry. I think the next blog I write will be about my experiences with bees.

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  17. I have to stick up for my home state a little. I love Arizona. The south can keep their horrible humidity, tropical storms/hurricanes and the midwest can keep their tornados. The west coast has earthquakes. What do we have have? Scorpions. (And occasionally hot weather, but hey, it's a dry heat!) Growing up in central Texas I had to constantly be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, water moccasins, cotton-mouths, copperheads....and fire ants, so remembering to keep my shoes on is a lot easier, lol.

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    1. I’m with you. But we have to avoid getting too enthusiastic because everyone will want to move here!

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  18. LOL, I'm in AZ, too. I've seen one scorpion. It was in my jewelry jar. I slapped a book on top and ran it outside and let it go. It played dead (they do that.)

    I've seen a rattlesnake in the wild, too. Now that's breathtaking. It slowly crossed the road in front of our truck. It had to be six feet long. We were mesmerized and stayed in the truck. In AZ, you learned to be careful.

    I'm from Nebraska and dealt with tornadoes. I can run from a scorpion or rattlesnake - not so the tornado that jumped over the house I was babysitting in. LOL

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    1. Thank goodness we don’t have to deal with tornados here, although those dirt devils can whip up a lot of dirt. One of the many reasons I prefer Arizona where our main contention is heat – like the 115 degrees we can look forward to this afternoon

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  19. Ooooh, so glad you didn't step on that one, Marion! When I was a kid on a school group camping trip in the Sahara desert, I kicked over a rock while wearing sandals. A scorpion like the one you have pictured reared its tail at me, but luckily, I wasn't stung. We actually had an entomologist with us who was conducting research. He was thrilled over my discovery lol.

    I also took care of a large black scorpion during high school. She had babies and it was amazing to see how they'd ride up on her back.

    You be careful now!

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