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What's bugging you? Feb. 28, 2018

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In this week's column I am going to give you a preview of some of the creepy crawler garden dwellers I will be talking about at the March 16 meeting of the Plant and Dig Garden Club. If you are interested in more information, I am sure they would love to have you attend.

This group of "creepies" is the scorpions and look-alikes. The first is the true scorpion, of which there are many species. They all have pinchers and a long tail with a stinger on its tip. Scorpions sting in self-defense and most stings are not very serious. Their size in our area averages two to three inches in length. A neat characteristic of scorpions is that they fluoresce in the darkness when exposed to black light (UV light).

North American wind- or sun scorpions are generally smaller than most scorpions, averaging about one inch in length. They have large jaws but are tailless. They are nocturnal and excellent predators of beasties we consider pests. Leave them alone! There is a myth that continues that Middle Eastern camel spiders (close relatives to our sun scorpions) are as large as humans and can run up to 25 mph. Total hogwash! They do however get larger than ours, up to 6 inches in length.

Whip scorpions, also known as vinegarones have pinchers and a whip tail but no stinger. They are quite large averaging three to five inches long. They are dark in color and have a gland that gives off a spray containing acetic acid when disturbed, hence their name including the word, vinegar. They are nocturnal, have poor vision and locate prey mainly through vibrations.

The pseudoscorpions are the midgets of the scorpion world, averaging 1/8 to 1⁄4 inch long. They have pinchers but no tail or stinger. They too are predators but their inconspicuous size makes them almost invisible where they live in leaf litter and under rocks or tree bark.

So there you have it, four kinds of "scorpions," all considered by most people as creepy crawlers but I find quite fascinating. But then again, I'm a bug guy; we're different.

Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is on the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Gardener.

True scorpion
Vinegarone
Sun scorpion
Pseudo scorpion
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