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Arizona Desert Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Arizona Desert Scorpion

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Image Credit: Jennifer B. taken in Moon Valley Park, Phoenix, AZ
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The hearty Arizona Desert Scorpion is comfortable in one of America's driest regions and can grow bigger than the palm of an adult's hand.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Arizona Desert Scorpion is largest species of scorpion native to the United States. Like most scorpions, it is nocturnal, coming out mostly at night for feeding and mating. During the day, they usually burrow in loose soil or under rocks for shelter. Also like all scorpions, it is venomous, though a sting from this species will only produce a great deal of pain in the wounded area. It not considered life-threatening. That said, small children and the elderly tend to suffer more from a sting, so seeking medical attention immediately after an encounter may quicken pain relief.

Scorpions are a type of Arachnid. They have eight legs and are easy to identify because of their long tail with a bulbous stinger at the end. Large pedipalps by the head end in strong claws. The chelicerae (mouthparts) are also strong and sharp. Arizona Desert Scorpions are dark brown with yellowish legs. Creamy yellow bands cross the body at every segment. To reproduce, the male and female appear to dance together. The male drops a sperm packet on the ground and the female picks it up to fertilize her eggs. Soft-bodied instars (young scorpions) are born alive, not hatched from eggs. They climb on the mother's back and will reside there for almost 2 weeks, without eating, while they molt and become harder. Afterward, they will venture on their own, hunting for insect prey. It is prudent to determine if a mother is carrying offspring before attempting to move or destroy her.

It is an ambush predator, remaining still when a victim approaches until it is close enough to attack. The stinger of a scorpion is used to immobilize insects, spiders, centipedes, and even tiny lizards. A venomous gland pushes toxins into the puncture site. After injecting its venom, the scorpion uses its large claws to rip the prey apart. It then proceeds to suck out the body fluids as a meal.

The Arizona Desert Scorpion has been kept as a 'pet' and can have a long life in captivity, though it will unlikely reproduce under such conditions. It is possible that disenchanted 'pet owners' have released their scorpions in areas they do not naturally live once owners no longer wish to keep them. This may explain sightings outside of their native and natural range of Southern California and Arizona.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Nocturnal insect icon
Pest insect icon
Insect stinger icon
Venomous insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Chelicerata
      Order: Scorpiones
        Family: Caraboctonidae
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          Genus: Hadrurus
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            Species: arizonensis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Hadrurus arizonensis
Category: Scorpion
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 140mm (0.59" to 5.51")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, yellow, tan, ivory
Descriptors: claws, pincers, stinger, venomous, painful, pest, nocturnal
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 15mm and 140mm
Lo: 15mm
Md: 77.5mm
Hi: 140mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Arizona Desert Scorpion may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Arizona Desert Scorpion. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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