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California Common Scorpion (Paruroctonus silvestrii)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the California Common Scorpion

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Image Credit: Jim H. taken near Los Angeles, CA
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The large pedipalps, or pincers, of the ubiquitous California Common Scorpion distract from the more nefarious stinger on its long tail.

Updated: 12/18/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
California Common Scorpions are frequently seen throughout the state and areas near it. This species is adapted to a variety of habitats, existing comfortably in the desert scrub as well as the sandy coastline. Cooler areas, like forested mountains are also places one may find it.

The swollen pedipalps are a light tan or yellowish color with brown tips. These are used to hold insect prey while the long tail plunges its stinger into it. Once injected with paralyzing venom, the scorpion eats the insect. In human, encounters, the venom is known to cause pain, but it is not dangerous. The dark brown abdomen is slender in males, and more rounded in females. Strong, pale tan/yellow legs hold the body close to the ground while it prowls for a meal. They are active at night and typically hide under objects during the day. Ultraviolet light can help locate this species in the dark thanks to its light blue glow in that light spectrum.

Scorpions mature slowly, molting their exoskeleton as they outgrow it. They can have a lifespan upwards of 10 years. To help keep California Common Scorpions from taking up residence indoors, remove debris piles and other items that make for easy hiding spots off the property. Be mindful of open doors and windows, keeping screens in place. Use weather-stripping to plug up gaps in door and window frames. Keep branches trimmed away from the roof of the house to prevent scorpion from dropping down and entering from above.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Harmful insect icon
Insect stinger icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Scorpiones
        Family: Vaejovidae
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          Genus: Paruroctonus
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            Species: silvestrii

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Paruroctonus silvestrii
Other Name(s): Silvestri's Scorpion
Category: Scorpion
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 76mm (1.96" to 2.99")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: tan; brown; yellow
Descriptors: stinging; harmful; glow; desert; pincers; curved tail

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 50mm (2.0in) and 76mm (3.0in)
Lo: 50mm
Md: 63mm
Hi: 76mm

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 California Common 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 California Common Scorpion. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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