Saturday, August 16, 2014

OMG! Scorpions and How to Kill Them

Striped Bark Scorpion*
I saw the first one. When I spotted him I freaked out a little and promptly splatted him with the heal of my shoe. I had never seen a live scorpion in my house before and I had the "heebie jeebies" for the entire evening. The next day I shared my traumatic story with a friend at work who said, "Oh, you know they mate for life, right? So you will have to find the other." I about wet my pants when she said that. I lived in Arizona for 33 years without ever seeing a scorpion that was alive with the exception of the one that my son caught and thought would be cool to stick in a jar and show me. I was not entertained. I don't do scorpions. In Arizona I expected them, but in Oklahoma?



Several days later I came across the second scorpion. I quickly dispatched this scorpion and then gleefully texted my boyfriend of my victory over the scorpions. I just figured they were an anomaly. I was wrong. I had settled into bed and was playing solitaire on my iPad when a movement on the wall caught my eye. Sure enough there was the largest scorpion I ever hope to see in my lifetime taking a leisurely stroll down the wall stud. Quickly I found an instrument of death, my newly purchased rubber mallet, and I squished him with a firm thud. That was the point at which I realized I may have to find a more aggressive, less hands-on way to get rid of these icky little creatures.

I spent a few hours educating myself about these little spawns of hell. After reading blog posts and message boards filled with stories from terrified homeowners, I stopped off at my local home improvement big box store on my way home from work and picked up the only DIY home exterminating spray that listed scorpions as one of the pests it would kill. I sprayed all around. I felt good. I felt proactive. I assumed that the spray would eliminate any more from thinking they were welcome to my place. I even adopted two cats because the research said cats seem to enjoy torturing and then eating them with little consequence.

Oh, but I was so wrong.

Two nights later I was in a light sleep around 3 a.m. I felt a light tickle on my leg. I had worn shorts to bed because it was hot and I did not yet have an air conditioner for that building. I was sleeping with just a sheet and even that would make it too hot, so it was folded at the bottom of the bed. I reached over and pet one of my new cats who was contentedly sleeping curled up next to me. I had figured the tickle was his tail twitching against my leg. I was so wrong! As I stroked him from head to tail I realized that his tail was curled up along his side. If his tail is there, what the hell is tickling my leg? I carefully reached over and turned on the lantern. OMG! In one fell swoop I brushed the scorpion off my leg and let out an incredibly loud girl-squeal. I slipped on my flip flops, jumped out of bed, and got the Scorpinator (the name I affectionately assigned to my rubber mallet) and went to hunt the little creep down. To my horror I COULDN'T FIND HIM ANYWHERE!! I did not sleep the rest of the night and had the worst case of the Heebie Jeebies ever.

The next day I avoided going home. I ended up in the guest room of a friends house because I just could not bare the idea of going home to battle for sleep in a house filled with these horrible little creatures. I figured I needed a good night's sleep and to regroup the next day to figure out what I would do about this distressing situation. I did some internet research about scorpions as well. Understand the enemy, right? Here is what I learned about scorpions:

  • Scorpions are an Arthropod (have a hard shell) and are Arachnids (really scary spiders!)
  • They are everywhere, on every continent, except Antarctica. 
  • They prefer temperatures between 68 and 99 degrees
  • They are nocturnal and hide from light
  • They can live for up to a year without eating and would take 5 years to drown in water
  • A coating on their "shell" makes them fluoresce, which is why we hunt them with black lights
  • They blend into their environment and are difficult to see 
  • There are a limited number of species (National Geographic says 30) that will kill a human, but their sting still hurts like hell
  • It takes them 3 - 8 months from mating before they have their babies, which are born alive 
  • They can live for 10 years or more!
  • Scorpions can flatten themselves down to the thickness of a nickel and can come in through a crack 1/4" thick. 

Ok, just so you know, I have the willies just typing this post!

Alright, so the next step I took was to go buy a black light as everyone had suggested and I waited until sundown (coincidentally on the full moon night too, which is when one internet site stated they were most active) and set out to hunt them down and kill them one at a time. At least that was my intention. Dragging my friend, Monica, along for the adventure, I plugged the light into an extension cord and examined the Shouse first. The Shouse is the building I have electrified and partially insulated with air conditioning running. I have seen only one scorpion in there and found one dead. This particular night I found nothing glowing and was really feeling pretty good about the whole thing. I mean, maybe there really aren't that many and I was over reacting, right?

Um, NO!

Stepping out of the first building we made our way along the side and found one unlucky bugger making a break for it. I smooshed him good. Then we walked over to the Shedroom building and were horrified. They were EVERYWHERE! We counted seven on the front porch alone and could see where they were coming and going into the building. Holy crap! I wanted to vomit. There was no way just hitting them with a rubber mallet was going to do any good. Clearly they were infesting this building. We could not get in my car fast enough. I felt sick.

Another night in Monica's guest room had me struggling to figure out what to do. It was Sunday the next morning and I called an exterminator. They don't work on weekends. I was on my own since I was leaving for a business trip in the morning and couldn't wait around for an exterminator to show up. It was time to get wicked. 

I hit my local home improvement store and the local farm store. I bought any poison that said it kills scorpions.

Disclaimer: Save your concerns about chemicals, blah, blah, blah. When you have an infestation you do what it takes to eliminate it. Follow the directions for any chemicals carefully. Keep out of the reach of children, of course.

Ok, now we are getting to the meat of this post. How to kill off an infestation of scorpions and keep them out! This is how I did it.


 I  bought:

Tempo SC Ultra

Tempo SC Ultra: Makes 2 gallons. I mixed it as 1.5 gallons for the initial spray. 
Put in a pump-up sprayer. Everyone seemed to recommend this. 


Sevin Granules
Sevin Bug Granules: Use a spreader to spread all around the OUTSIDE 
of the house for a protective barrier.

Ortho Granules
Ortho Bug B Gone Granules: Use a spreader to spread all around the OUTSIDE 
of the house for a protective barrier.

Black Flag Home Spray

Black Flag Home Insect Control: Gel/Liquid premixed. 


Diatomaceous Earth

Garden Safe Crawling Insect Killer containing Diatomaceous Earth: Powder that you sprinkle all around. Safe for animals too. 


Bonide Fogger 
Bonide Household Room Fogger: Not all foggers kill scorpions. Read the package. This is the only one I found that has them listed. Follow directions carefully to avoid blowing up your house.

Step One: Prepare for Battle

First of all I want to say you need to prep your space. Wait until day time as it will be far less freaky. In my case I was treating a building that has no food in it. It is essentially my bedroom. I took the sheets off the bed, but left on a mattress pad/cover. This was washed and put back on AFTER this process. Next I took out anything I didn't want to get fogged because fogging is part of the process.

Step Two: Treat the Outside

I went outside and spread Sevin and Ortho granules around and under my house. I created a five-foot barrier around anything I didn't want scorpions (or any pests) to be able to get to. The package says to wet the area after spreading the granules. This allows the granules to dissolve and get into the vegetation/dirt where scorpions hide out during the day.

Step Three: Lay Down a Protective Chemical Barrier Inside

The next thing to do is to spray your liquid poisons around the interior of your building. The Black Flag and Tempo liquids get sprayed along baseboards, all around windows and doors, and in any spaces where scorpions like to chill, such as attics and crawl spaces. Because my building is unfinished I had access to a lot more of the building. No worries if you don't have the same kind of access as the scorpions will eventually crawl across the areas you are able to treat anyway.

Step Four: Make it look like a Cocaine Bust Gone Wrong

After allowing time for your chemicals to dry, you are going to need to sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth is not harmful to humans or animals, so feel free to use it liberally. Here is some info from Wikipedia explaining a little about how it works:
Diatomite is used as an insecticide, due to its abrasive and physico-sorptive properties. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency, based on Fick's law of diffusion. This also works against gastropods and is commonly employed in gardening to defeat slugs. However, since slugs inhabit humid environments, efficacy is very low. It is sometimes mixed with an attractant or other additives to increase its effectiveness. Medical-grade diatomite is sometimes used to de-worm both animals and humans. It is commonly used in lieu of boric acid, and can be used to help control and possibly eliminate bed bug, house dust mite, cockroach, ant and flea infestations. This material has wide application for insect control in grain storage.
In order to be effective as an insecticide, diatomaceous earth must be uncalcinated (i.e., it must not be heat-treated prior to application) and have a mean particle size below about 12 ┬Ám (i.e., food-grade – see below).
Although considered to be relatively low-risk, pesticides containing diatomaceous earth are not exempt from regulation in the United States under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.

So, using a cheese shaker (like I did, or something similar), you are going to sprinkle DE all around. I put it everywhere for the first treatment, including on carpets and surfaces, knowing I could easily vacuum it up and wipe it off. I wanted to make sure that anything living in that space had an opportunity to come in contact with it at some point. I also sprinkled it on the porches and all around the outside of buildings. What I like most about DE is that I can leave it all over in spaces like my attic and storage buildings and under my beds. 

Step Five: Bomb the Joint

The final step is setting off a fogger. I am not big fan of foggers because they require a bit of work, but in this case I wanted to ensure that EVERY scorpion was eliminated. I carefully read the packages of all the available foggers and found that Bonide brand foggers specifically list scorpions as one of the pests they kill. I set the can in the middle of the room. Closed all the windows and turned off any source of potential spark or flame (very important unless you want to blow up your house. Follow the instructions carefully.) I made one last look around for anything I didn't want to get fogged (like my toothbrush and toilet paper, etc.) and pushed the activation button on the top of the can. I quickly made my way out, shutting and locking the door behind me. 

I went to a hotel (for business), but the can says don't come back in for four hours. Follow the directions, unlike this moron:  http://kfor.com/2014/08/11/metro-man-bug-bombs-himself/ 

I was gone for four days on business. During that time the building was left closed up, locked and untouched. When I got back, I waited anxiously for sundown and plugged in my black light to take a look-see. Know what I found? NOTHING. Not one scorpion inside or out!!! I could hardly believe it. I had so much anxiety about the whole thing that I barely slept and I checked the walls, ceilings, and outside four different times before morning. Not one scorpion could be found. I am simply overjoyed!

Outcome: 

I left the DE on the floors and such, but wiped down my furniture well since the fogger poison had landed on it as well. I washed the mattress pad cover and put fresh sheets and blankets back on the bed. I slept through the night unmolested by any insect, crawling or flying. I have found peace! 

Oh, and one last thing, scorpions eat other insects. It is imperative that you continue to treat for insects on a regular basis to avoid them returning. Leaving the DE in the attic, basement, crawlspace, etc. and continually treating the perimeter of the house with granules is the only way to continue to keep them out. I am not a big fan of chemicals, but I also am realistic: Better living through chemicals is sometimes necessary.

So there you have it. That is how you eliminate and infestation of scorpions. It worked for me and I (knock wood) did not get stung before managing to get rid of them. I have checked each night with the black light just to be sure I am not overly confident and haven't spotted any. 

What about you? Share your scorpion tale or stories of successful scorpion elimination below! 


*"Striped Scorpion" by Dakota L. - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - wttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Striped_Scorpion.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Striped_Scorpion.jpg