The scorpion: Because then everyone would want to live here

Note: This column appears in the 7/16 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/17 issue of the Peoria Times

When we informed our family over two years ago that we were moving to Arizona, the reaction was predictably mixed. They were happy for us, but sad to see us go. It was my uncle however, that had some practical advice: Watch out for scorpions.

This advice has proven to be invaluable, especially considering that every single person we initially asked about scorpions upon moving here reacted indifferently. I have come to believe that this is a vast conspiracy, and that every person who lives in Arizona privately acknowledges not to make a big deal out of scorpions when newcomers ask. The state brochure should read, “Arizona: What scorpions?”

I cannot tell you how bonkers it drives me when people do not react with the proper indignation when it comes to this subject. Arizona is home to the bark scorpion, which Wikipedia -- my source for all social, spiritual and scorpion-related information -- describes as being the only species “capable of causing lethal reactions in humans.” Hey, no big deal! It’s just death…what are you gonna do, ya’ know?

When we came across our first scorpion –- a bark scorpion, in our closet, thank you very much –- a few weeks after moving here, my wife and I reacted as if we were both on fire, and I eventually ended up smashing the thing with my flip-flop until the particles of the scorpion were no longer distinguishable to the human eye. There have been other encounters, several of which have resulted in me leaving panicked voice mail messages for our “bug guy” at midnight on a Saturday.

Can we blame this on the economy? Actually, yes. Due to the real estate crisis and foreclosures resulting in vacant houses that aren’t treated, we have seen more scorpions this summer than ever. All bark scorpions of course. Feeling frustrated, defeated, and more concerned now with two foster kids and a small dog at home, we decided to take matters into our own hands, vigilante-style.

My wife and I became vegetarian hunters.

Scorpion hunters.

Based on the recommendation of a friend with similar concerns, we took drastic action. I purchased a black light online ( It’s called – no joke – The Arachnid. Now, before we go to bed at night, we take The Arachnid, a pair of pliers, a glass mug, and whatever courage we can muster outside and we hunt scorpions.

First of all, you cannot believe how The Arachnid illuminates a scorpion. Totally exposes it in florescent green. Then I grab it with the pliers, ideally crushing its insides, and drop it into the mug which it cannot climb out of (because they cannot climb glass, and because I just cut it in half). Then we transfer it to a closed container and leave it there to die and think about the harm it has caused by being a scorpion.

(It should also be mentioned that the black light illuminates other things as well, most notably paint stains. Because we have several paint stains on the rocks outside, and on the carpet in our bedroom, I have almost had about twenty heart attacks as a result of shining the light on one of these stains and thinking a gargantuan and impenetrable-by-pliers scorpion has taken over our property. The same stains do this to me every night. Also, because we do this right before bed, I have had nothing but scorpion-related dreams for the past two weeks. The other night I dreamt I had a scorpion dentist. Needless to say, this entire endeavor has been an exhausting assault on my senses.)

We caught six scorpions in the first five nights, including a baby that I showed no mercy to. And that six isn't counting the two that got away (into our neighbors yard...sorry, buddy!) I think the fugitives have spread the word to the others, as activity has slowed. But we remain vigilant.

Eventually we would like to attach The Arachnid to a hardhat and wear Dickies suits and goggles and film a realty show. If anyone important is reading this, call us.

Oh, and if any of our family is reading this, come visit us! It’s awesome here! What…scorpions? Pffttt. They’re no big deal.

When we put the black light on these guys, they hissed and ran away.


Bill said…
I guess I've been pretty lucky...12 years of living here and I've only seen one scorpion - and it was dead when I found it, underneath my bananas. Sure scared me though.

Also, I was disappointed to see that you made a joke about the Scorpions, the 70s rock band. From the very start I couldn't wait to make one myself, only to find that you had already done it at the very end.
CMB said…
Mike - this is fantastic - writing that is, not the scorpion infestation. You have once again put a smile on my face and a chuckle in the air on a slow Friday morning. I love you and miss you very much - Laur too :)
Anonymous said…
If I didn't live through it with you, I don't know if I'd believe it.
Well done!
Judy said…
I'm glad you kept this little secret until AFTER our visit-remind me to bring my night-vision goggles next time! Great article!!