Travel & Places Latin America


Scorpions ? ugh!

The appearance of most scorpions is enough to send most people in the other direction. Just the sight of them in a Survivor episode gives me the creeps. With their long slender bodies, that five segmented tail arching over the back with a poison gland or stinger at the tip ready to sting? ugh.

With that stinger and two pincer-bearing arms, called pedipalps, in front, scorpions defend themselves or attack prey.

They have four pairs of legs, and between the last pair is a comblike structure called pectines that the scorpion uses to identify surroundings or prey.

Though scorpions have two eyes on the top of the head, and more eyes along the front corners of the head, but they don?t see well. Although they have good hearing, they rely on the sense of touch, using their pectines to find and devour their prey. They like small insects, spiders, centipedes, earthworms, and other scorpions. Once they capture their prey, they use the large pincers to crush and draw it toward the mouth. They do need water.

Scorpions are nocturnal, hiding during the day under rocks, barks or other covered places. Their flat bodies, ranging from ½ inch to 7 1/4 inches long (including the tail) depending on the species, makes it easy for them to get into small spaces.

Of 1,500 species of scorpions worldwide, only about 20 to 25 are regarded as dangerous. The sting of most scorpions is considered only as harmful as a bee sting Stings from the species considered dangerous may cause paralysis, severe convulsions, cardiac irregularities, or breathing difficulties that may lead to death.

Antivenins are available in areas where dangerous scorpions live. The best protection against scorpions is to stay away from them. However, a person who is stung by a scorpion should be watched closely for adverse reactions. An ice pack applied to the affected area will relieve some pain. If swelling and/or pain persists or if breathing difficulties occur, immediate medical attention is necessary.

There are 16 species / subspecies in Panama, and of interest to the Castaways, ?Four species of buthid scorpions (Ananteris platnicki Lourenco, 1993; Centruroides limbatus [Pocock, 1898]; Tityus pachyurus [Pocock, 1897]; and T. ocelote Francke and Stockwell, 1987) are recorded for the first time from some islands and cays of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Panama. Morphological variation and ecological data are given for all the species. This is the first Panamanian record for both C. limbatus and T. ocelote. The scorpion fauna of the Bocas de Toro Archipelago is related with the recent fauna of the Atlantic continental lowland region of Costa Rica and Panama and includes Amazonian-Guyanese (genera Ananteris and Tityus) as well as Mexican-North Central American (genus Centruroides) elements. [Scorpions(Arachnida) from Bocas del Toro archipelago, Panama.

See Centruroides limbatus for description and photos of one of the species the Castaways might encounter in the Buthidae family. ?With 80 genera (one extinct) and 702 species [Updated 03.03.06], this family is the largest of the scorpion families. This family is widespread around the world (not found in Antarctica and New Zealand), and are found in tropical, subtropical and partly in temperate habitats. The members of this family are small and medium sized scorpions with a triangular sternum (some genera have a more pentagonal sternum). In many genera (e.g., Androctonus, Apistobuthus, Parabuthus, and other Old World genera) the cauda is usually strong and powerful and the pedipalps are often very slender whereas other genera have elongate appendages, especially the males (e.g., Centruroides, Lychas, Isometrus and related genera). Many species are yellow or brown (or variations of these colors), but black forms are also present. Some species have quite intricate and attractive patterns (e.g., Lychas and Isometrus) and colours (e.g., Centruroides and Uroplectes). Sizes range from about 20 mm (like Microtityus and Microbuthus) to over 120 mm (as in Androctonus, some Centruroides, Apistobuthus and others).? Buthidae

You might want to see photos of Scorpions of Central America & the Caribbean.

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