I'm damn near old enough to have been afoot with Teddy Roosevelt as he stormed Battle Creek with the Rough Rump Rangers and took Kellogg’s back from the evil forces of the Crispy Empire. But one thing I'd never seen up close-up and personal was a scorpion.

My daughter, who was around 11 at the time, called out to me (at just about this same time of night, come to think of it) in terror and said, "Daddy! There's a scorpion in my closet!"

I'm like, "Yeah, right." She sounded terrified enough, but I figured that I needed to finish that beer before it got hot and that it was probably a spider or an hallucination. (Do flashbacks transfer generationally?) So I said, "I'll handle it tomorrow, honey. Go to bed."

She was adamant. "No, really! I saw it!" So I went upstairs to her room and looked around. I didn't see anything. I asked where she had seen it, and she pointed to a spot in the closet. I stuck my hand in there and just fished around to see what I could find.


I guess I've had things hurt worse, but I'll be damned if I could think of them then. This thing hit me on my right thumb, and it began to swell up. It was almost the size of Hugh Grant's turgid member by the time it was done! (Well, maybe bigger.) I did manage to find and kill it. It was big. Maybe 1 1/2 inches long. (I hear the smaller ones are more deadly; I don't know.)

I called the emergency room and asked them if I needed to come in, and they said if a red circle didn't form around the bite and begin to radiate, that I'd probably live. (My wife uttered a phrase under her breath just then. (Was it, "Damn!"?))

Well, I got over it. Yeah, I know many of you would like to see my thumbs and all opposing digits fall off, but just get over that, OK?

So, tonight, just a few minutes ago, three years later, my daughter sticks her head in the stairwell and says, "Daddy, there's scorpion in my room." I believed her and went up there. This time, the devil in question was right in the middle of the floor. I killed it slowly.

I'm taking this as a sign of some sort.

I'm thinking, "Speed Limit: 30 MPH." Or, "Deer Crossing."

I'm not sure which.

Scorpions are arachnids, and are extremely prolific in the Sonora desert. Exactly how many scorpions there are crawling around here often surprises people who move into developing areas. In the summer, we usually find many more scorpions in or around the house than spiders and cockroaches combined. Frankly, I prefer having scorpions to cockroaches.

Although scorpions are awesome and efficient predators, they aren't too dangerous to humans. They only sting when trapped or confused, and their pincers are too small to do any damage. Scorpions are much more dangerous to bugs, their usual prey. Insects are caught and held with the pincers, then stung by the tail. The venom paralyzes the insect, and the scorpion liquifies it with its enzyme-active saliva and chows down. Although scorpions are certain doom for insects, and their venom can kill or maim many small desert animals, they themselves are so small that they are easily preyed upon by all kinds of things, many of which are smart enough not to eat the poison parts.

The sting of even the most poisonous of scorpions does not pose a danger to an adult. However, the sting of some scorpions can be dangerous to young children and the elderly. Stings tend to occur when someone puts on a shoe that has a scorpion sleeping in it, or when someone walks around barefoot in scorpion land. Picking up or touching a scorpion is also not a good idea. Scorpions look so scary that I doubt any toddler would play with one, but keep an eye out just in case.

Generally speaking, the larger the scorpion, the less dangerous its venom is. The largest scorpions, certain varieties of the hairy scorpion, look frightening but their stings do little more than poke holes. The smallest scorpion, the feared bark scorpion (usually between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in length), posseses the most dangerous sting, as noted above. They are found in great numbers in the Sonora desert, and any scorpion you find will probably be either a bark scorpion or a striped (banded?) scorpion.

If you find a scorpion in your house, kill it by smashing it with a shoe. Alternatively, you can catch it and put it back outside, but there are so many of them that it doesn't really affect the ecosystem. If you have just moved into a residence in a developing desert area, never, ever walk around your house barefoot, especially at night. Bark scorpions, and some other species of desert scorpions, have an interesting exoskeleton that glows brightly under ultraviolet light. This makes finding them very easy at night -- wave your light around and look at all the pretty scorpions.

Going on a crusade against the scorpions is not necessary or desirable. They eat just about every other bug you can think of, some of which are much more irritating to you, like roaches, termites, moths, crickets, etc. And if you see something that looks almost like a scorpion but won't stop scrambling about long enough for you to be sure, it's probably a solpugid. Every time I have found a scorpion in the house, it has been sitting very still. Solpugids, on the other hand, never seem to stop moving, so much so that I couldn't figure out what they were until I happened upon an enyclopedia entry. Solpugids are harmless to humans.

Probably the most well-known character in the Mortal Kombat series ("Get over here!"), as well as a desert-dwelling arachnid.

The only cool thing I know about the latter is that when they stand still, their legs detect the movements of other animals by sensing tiny tremors in the ground below, produced when other creatures walk. As this is their strongest sensory input, whenever a scorpion moves its legs, it is essentially blind. Which is why they're so still most of the time, especially when a huge bumbling oaf such as yourself happens across one.

As for the video game character Scorpion, here are his moves for Mortal Kombat 2. Only some of the special moves, and none of the finishing moves, are applicable to other MK games.

Special moves
Spear: Back, Back, Low Punch
Transport: Down, Down/Back, Back + High Punch (can be done in mid-air)
Scissor Takedown: Forward, Down/Forward, Down, Down/Back, Back + Low Kick (the most useless attack ever)
Air Throw: Block, while in mid-air near opponent

Finishing Moves
Toasty!: From a couple steps away, <Block> Down, Down, Up, Up, </Block> High Punch (If you're offended by Dan Forden's falsetto, you can eliminate it by doing the same move sans the Down, Down)
Spear Slash: From about two steps away, <High Punch> Down, Forward, Forward, Forward </High Punch>
Babality*: Down, Back, Back, High Kick
Friendship* (Scorpion doll): Back, Back, Down, High Kick
Dead Pool: Hold Low Punch and Low Kick, then approach the victim and press Down and High Punch
Kombat Tomb/Pit II : Down, Forward, Forward, Block

* Of course, you cannot do a babality or friendship if you've attempted any punching in the winning round

Scor"pi*on (?), n. [F., fr. L. scorpio, scorpius, Gr. , perhaps akin to E. sharp.]

1. Zool.

Any one of numerous species of pulmonate arachnids of the order scorpiones, having a suctorial mouth, large claw-bearing palpi, and a caudal sting.

Scorpions have a flattened body, and a long, slender post-abdomen formed of six movable segments, the last of which terminates in a curved venomous sting. The venom causes great pain, but is unattended either with redness or swelling, except in the axillary or inguinal glands, when an extremity is affected. It is seldom if ever destructive of life. Scorpions are found widely dispersed in the warm climates of both the Old and New Worlds.

2. Zool.

The pine or gray lizard (Sceloporus undulatus).

[Local, U.S.]

3. Zool.

the scorpene.

4. Script.

A painful scourge.

My father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. 1 Kings xii. 11.

5. Astron.

A sign and constellation. See Scorpio.

6. Antiq.

An ancient military engine for hurling stones and other missiles.

Book scorpion. Zool. See under Book. -- False scorpion. Zool. See under False, and Book scorpion. -- Scorpion bug, ∨ Water scorpion Zool. See Nepa. -- Scorpion fly Zool., a neuropterous insect of the genus Panorpa. See Panorpid. -- Scorpion grass Bot., a plant of the genus Myosotis. M. palustris is the forget-me-not. -- Sorpion senna Bot., a yellow-flowered leguminous shrub (Coronilla Emerus) having a slender joined pod, like a scorpion's tail. The leaves are said to yield a dye like indigo, and to be used sometimes to adulterate senna. -- Scorpion shell Zool., any shell of the genus Pteroceras. See Pteroceras. -- Scorpion spiders. Zool., any one of the Pedipalpi. -- Scorpion's tail Bot., any plant of the leguminous genus Scorpiurus, herbs with a circinately coiled pod; -- also called caterpillar. -- Scorpion's thorn Bot., a thorny leguminous plant (Genista Scorpius) of Southern Europe. -- The Scorpion's Heart Astron., the star Antares in the constellation Scorpio.


© Webster 1913.

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