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SALT LAKE CITY — Southern Utah residents have not only been awash in torrential rains and flash flooding, the storms are exposing a plethora of scorpions.
Researchers say they become more active in the cooler, more humid weather and come out at night to hunt their prey.
What the locals are saying: A story in the St. George News solicited tales of encounters from residents who detailed their experiences in a private Facebook page.
One woman reported seeing one while she was stargazing, while a man reported spotting two pretty large specimens after a rainstorm.
Massive rainstorms in Egypt last year created a nightmare scenario when it comes to scorpions.
Several hundred people were hospitalized due to scorpion stings after the rain washed them out of hiding. Three people died, but it was unclear if it was from the storm itself or the scorpion stings.
Researchers told the St. George news site that scorpions, while they get a bad rap, just want to be left alone and their stinger is their only defense mechanism. They serve as a great tool for insect control and linger near homes to hunt for food.
The many types of scorpions in Utah: The largest species is the desert hairy scorpion, and while it looks intimidating, it has a mild sting that has the same active compounds as a honey bee, so for those with a bee allergy, it can be dangerous. It is docile but can be aggressive when provoked. Experts say another species that is common in the area is the more dainty Arizona bark scorpion that has venom potentially dangerous to young people, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
Pesky invaders: While great at insect control, scorpions also sneak into homes and are a source of fear and trepidation.
Other than bees and snakes, scorpions are responsible for a large majority of annual deaths. They are discovered in sinks, tubs, shoes, drawers or dark cabinets, according to research out of New Mexico State University.
In the St. George Facebook group, one woman's teenage son found a scorpion in his bed as he pulled back the covers.
Experts say the best way to rid one's home of a scorpion is to sweep it into a dustpan and toss it back outside.
Utah State University says a mixture of cedarwood oil and water sprayed around one's home is a good way to keep scorpions out and it is nontoxic to other animals. If there is a significant influx of scorpions, it is best to call a pest control specialist. Scorpions can compact their body, so if there is an opening to your home the width of a nickel, they can scurry on in.
A tail of trouble: One Oregon man found out the hard way it is against the law to be a scorpion dealer.
He was sentenced to two years federal probation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered he had imported and exported hundreds of scorpions to and from Germany. He even labeled one package as chocolates.
The case, which was a violation of the Lacey Act, was settled earlier this year and also brought with it a $5,000 fine.