Scorpions in Austin Hill Country

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on May 16, 2008 · 36 comments

Striped Bark Scorpion I was stung by a scorpion in my sleep the other night. This was the 5th or 6th time since 1999 I have been stung in my sleep by a scorpion crawling in the sheets. There are many upsides and positive aspects to living in Austin, but the scorpions might be viewed as a negative by most people.

Scorpions seem to like me for some reasons, as I’ve been stung 5 or 6 times now, all while sleeping. Sylvia has been stung 2 or 3 times. Our kids have never been stung by a scorpion but my youngest daughter did get stung by a centipede when she was 6 years old, which was a harrowing, nightmarish scene that night. The centipede, which I captured with kitchen tongs, was 8″ long and about 1.5″ thick – the biggest I’d ever seen. It struggled so violently to escape the tongs that I freaked out and flushed it down the commode. Normally I would have released it far from the house.

This is par for the course living in a rural “country” neighborhood as we do in Oak Hill. We have a large wooded acreage lot that backs up to undeveloped land, so we see a lot of wildlife around the house including deer, squirrels, birds, snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc. We constantly find scorpions in the house and toss them outside, especially in the summer.

So, what is it like being stung by a scorpion? In a word, painful. It’s a sharp, piercing burning sting, similar to a wasp or yellow jacket sting, but worse. Imagine a sharp hot needle being poked into your skin and left there as the searing pain slowly spreads outward.

The good news is that the pain does usually goes away within 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, for me at least, it hurts more than a severe burn. I have a friend who claims to have gone into sweats and hallucinations after being stung multiple times while pulling on a pair of jeans with that had a scorpion inside the pant leg. Your pain and reaction may vary.

So what does a groggy Realtor, writhing in pain, say to the scorpion who stung him at 4AM?

I cornered him near the pillow, with a drinking glass and piece of cardboard in hand, and whispered. “Hey there little fella. Don’t worry. I don’t take it personally. Come on, let’s get you outside where you belong”. I scooped him into the glass, walked him to the furthest rear part of the property and tossed him out into the woods.

My friends say “why don’t you squash the darned thing?”

We don’t kill scorpions, or any other creatures that invade our home. We take them back outside, including the momma scorpion who was once walking through our kitchen with a gazillion little babies on her back. That’s a real creepy sight.

Personally, I think it’s bad luck to kill a scorpion. I wouldn’t feel right doing so, and I encourage others to respect all creatures. We built our house in their spot, so we can be flexible about such intrusions. We don’t treat our house with pesticides, so it’s just something we accept, that the critters are going to get inside now and then.

But why the scorpions like to get into beds, and sting me in particular, is a mystery to me. Maybe it’s because I roll over more often during the night while Sylvia and the kids remain more stationary. It’s always while rolling over I get stung, as the scorpion’s defense mechanism against being crushed must kick in. Otherwise I don’t think they really mean to seek out and sting humans.

Other places they like to nestle is in piles of laundry, behind boxes in the garage, wood piles and rock piles outside. Anywhere dark and out of the way, though it’s interesting that they do occasionally walk right across the living room or kitchen floor in broad daylight.

So, if you’re moving to Austin and want a nice place outside the city limits, on an acre or two in the country, you must accept that unless you want to nuke your home AND YARD with pesticides and poisons, you are going to have occasional encounters with scorpions, spiders and snakes. Interestingly, we have no ant problems, probably because the spiders and scorpions prey upon them, so there is an upside after all.

More on Scorpions at Wikipedia.

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