How to Get Rid of Scorpions in Your Home and Yard

scorpion on ground

Scorpions are venomous, predatory pests that can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Getting stung by one can hurt, but in most cases it won’t kill you. Still, you want to get rid of scorpions that appear in your home or yard.

The Nonlethal Method: Capture and Release

An inside scorpion can be safely escorted outside:

  1. Cover it: Place a quart-size glass jar over the scorpion.
  1. Trap it: Slide a heavy piece of construction paper underneath.
  1. Flip it: Secure the paper with your hand and flip it right-side-up. The scorpion will fall to the bottom.
  1. Remove it: Screw the lid on the jar, and put it outside. Far outside.

A homeowner’s tip: If you have forceps at least 10 inches long, you can pick up the scorpion and place it in the screw-top jar. Hedge shears or a branch clipper can work as well, if you can keep from closing them the final half-inch. Don’t be tempted to use the pruning shears; they are too short.

Lethal Methods: Squash or Spray

Photo Credit: Matt Reinbold / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

How to kill a scorpion: 

  • Squash it with a shoe or another object. It’s best that you aren’t wearing the shoe at the time to avoid getting stung. 
  • Spray it. Use a pesticide if you have one on hand, but keep in mind that it’s toxic, making it a concern if you have small children or pets. If you do use a pesticide, quickly open windows and clean up any pesticide residue.
  • Stick it. Put down a glue board. Be careful that children and pets can’t get to it, and realize that you will find other creatures (insects, crickets, and mice, for example) stuck to the sticky trap.
  • Tape it. Use duct tape to pick it up, then fold the tape over it and discard. 
  • Roll it. Use a lint brush with a long handle to squash and remove it, then discard the roller.

How to Keep Scorpions Out of Your House and Yard

Photo Credit: Matt Reinbold / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A good way to avoid having encounters with scorpions is to keep them out of your house:

  • Don’t leave items out where scorpions might crawl into them. This is especially true about shoes and clothing. 
  • Shake shoes and clothing before putting them on.
  • Shake wet towels around the swimming pool.
  • Wear gloves when working in the yard. 
  • Wear shoes outdoors, especially at night. 
  • Keep the yard clear. Remove trash, woodpiles, stones, and anything else from the foundation of the house to avoid developing a scorpion problem.
  • Prune tree branches so they don’t touch, or hang over, the house.
  • Bring firewood in as needed from woodpiles. Check it for scorpions.
  • Cover openings on doors and windows. Simple weatherstripping can do the job.
  • Caulk any cracks that allow entrance into the home. Make it a point to check the basement window wells.
  • Screens on windows should fit properly, and not have tears or holes.

Pro Tip: Scorpions are fluorescent, so they glow brightly under black light. If you are worried that one or more have made their way in to your home, they are easy to spot using the ultraviolet light that is a black light. Black lights can be purchased for less than $10.

Essential Oils: Do They Work on Scorpions?

As people look for natural ways of pest control, they are turning to essential oils. There are people who are certain they work. There are others who are doubtful.

There is a mix of essential oils that are used to make a scorpion repellent: drops of lavender and cedarwood in a spray bottle half-filled with water. The mix is sprayed across areas of your home a scorpion could squeeze through, like window frames and doorways. 

Cedarwood has a calming, soothing effect and the scent of lavender can help people fall asleep, so the smell in a house can be soothing, whether or not it helps with a scorpion problem.

A Scientific Analysis

Scientists are starting to study the use of essential oils. “A Comparative Analysis of Natural Scorpion Repellents” reviewed the use of three essential oils on scorpions, creating a barrier with them and seeing if scorpions crossed or turned back:

Repellent Used as BarrierNumber of Scorpions That Crossed the BarrierNumber of Scorpions That Were Repelled
Mentha piperata (mint leaves)1515
Citrus sinensis (sweet orange)1317
Citrus maxima (grapefruit)723
No repellent used2010

An observation: While the use of essential oils seemed to repel some scorpions, they did not repel all of them. 

Findings: The citrus maxima (commonly called pummelo, which is a parent of the grapefruit) was most effective, but scientifically it is not considered significantly different from the other repellents. However, using the repellents proved better than using nothing.

Chemicals Can Work, But Are Dangerous

  • Use chemical control only if nonchemical measures don’t work.
  • Spread wet burlap or cloth on the ground near areas where they have been seen. 
  • Spray scorpions when they have grouped together. With direct application of a chemical spray, the scorpions will die.
  • Spray possible entry points into the house, especially if you weren’t able to spray the scorpions directly.
  • Use an insecticide that is specific to scorpions and is approved for indoor use.
  • Follow label instructions exactly.
  • If you have children or pets, you need to be careful. Children and pets are known to get into the insecticides and be damaged by them. 
  • A pest control professional might be called for. Spraying chemicals can be done on a DIY basis, but a one-time visit from an exterminator can cost as little as $100.

Scorpion Stings

Photo Credit: Doug Letterman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

How Bad Are Scorpion Stings?

If you believe you have been stung by a scorpion, you should consider getting immediate medical help. However, a healthy adult doesn’t usually need treatment for a scorpion bite, according to the Mayo Clinic

A child or elderly person should immediately be taken to medical treatment. 

Symptoms of a scorpion sting may include:

  • The site of the sting burns. There is very little swelling.
  • If you tap it, it hurts. Test it with the tap of a finger. The pain of a scorpion’s sting will be sharp.
  • You stagger as you walk.
  • Your tongue feels thick.
  • When you try to speak, you slur your words.

If an adult has these symptoms, he or she should get medical attention right away:

  • Convulsions. These occur most often when children are bitten.
  • Abdominal pain and cramps, including vomiting.
  • Slow and shallow breathing. Also called respiratory depression.

What To Do If a Scorpion Stings You

Here are a few recommendations from experts on what to do:

  • Apply ice to the wound. But do not put the limb in ice water.
  • Remain relaxed and calm.
  • Do not take any sedatives.
  • Try to capture the scorpion for identification.

Scorpion Basics

  • Scorpions are predatory arachnids, a class of animals that includes spiders, ticks, and mites.
  • Scorpions are active at night and hide during the day
  • They hide under rocks, wood, or anything else on the ground. 
  • Some scorpion species burrow into the ground. 
  • Most scorpions live in dry, desert areas. But some can be found in grasslands, forests, and inside caves.

What Scorpions Look Like

Their body parts:

  • A pair of pincers, used to restrain and kill
  • Four pairs of legs, like other arachnids
  • A segmented tail that often curves over the body
  • A stinger at the end of the tail
  • Two eyes in the center of the head, another 2 to 5 pairs along their sides. Like other arachnids, they do not see well (despite all the eyes), instead relying on their sense of smell.

Common Types of Scorpions in America

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda)

  • Venom: Dangerous to people
  • Range: Arizona, in Southeastern California, Nevada, and New Mexico
  • Size: 3 inches long
  • Tail: Very thin, only 1/16 inch wide
  • Body: Yellow without stripes or patterns
  • Habitat: The only common climbing scorpion. Lives under tree bark and in crevices of rocky cliffs.
  • Around a home: Because it can climb and needs an opening of only 1/16th of an inch, it regularly makes its way into homes.

Giant Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis)

  • Venom: Not considered potent
  • Range: Deserts. Southern California, Arizona.
  • Size: 5 to 7 inches long
  • Tail: Its Latin name is “thick-tailed from Arizona.”
  • Body: Yellow with dark stripes on top. Hairs on the body stick out, sense vibrations, and give it its name.
  • Habitat: A burrower but found under rocks, logs, and other objects on the ground. 
  • Around a home: A night feeder attracted to water (swimming pools) and irrigated areas. Enters homes in search of water.

Stripedtail Scorpion (Vaejovis spinigerus)

  • Venom: Not considered dangerous
  • Range: Throughout the U.S.
  • Size: 2 1/2 inches long
  • Tail: Thicker than its other limbs, long
  • Body: Pale yellow. Striped on the top.
  • Habitat: A burrower found in sandy soil. Digs out space under rocks and logs. 
  • Around a home: Found under common objects such as sleeping bags and shoes. Will enter the house in pursuit of food (small insects, crickets).

FAQ About Scorpions

How Can You Tell If a Cat or Dog Has Been Bitten by a Scorpion?

When dogs and cats are stung, they may:

● Yelp
● Limp away
● Lick or paw at the wound
● Shake or rub their head

More serious symptoms include:

● Alterations in breathing
● Restlessness
● Tremors
● Change in eye movements

Pets can come across a scorpion, then come whimpering back to you. It may be a sting, but they can’t tell you that. If they start showing symptoms, contact a veterinarian.

According to a small study by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, larger dogs seemed to have fewer serious symptoms than small dogs, and most dogs showed symptom improvement in four hours. Less is known about cats, but from the small sample size available, they seem to be more prone to develop the more serious symptoms. 

Are Scorpions Harder to Kill Than Other Insects?

They can be more difficult to kill, according to scorpion pest control expert Mike Boyle of Burns Pest Elimination, located in Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas. But that can be the result of people believing these myths about them:

Myth: Scorpions are hard to kill because they have a thick exoskeleton that cannot be penetrated by scorpion control products.

Myth: They have built up an immunity to the products used on them.
Myth: You can’t kill scorpions with products, but you can kill their food source.

“All of these explanations are false,” Boyle says. “Scorpions are a bug just like any other bug.” It’s their biology and the way that they move that makes them more difficult to kill.”

Boyle pointed out that “When a bug walks, it doesn’t want to be out in the open. It likes to be compressed.” And he explained that when most bugs move about they always keep part of their body up against a wall or the ground.

“That’s why placing a barrier of pest control products around the home works with most insects,” he said. “Because their bodies are always in contact with a surface, as they cross a barrier they generally absorb enough product to kill them.”

But scorpions are different. “They walk on their tiptoes,” he says. “So even if they do come in contact with a product intended to eliminate them, they take in a very small amount.”

This is what makes them hard to kill.

How Many Species of Scorpions Are There?

There are 1,750 species of scorpions in the world. There are about 70 species found in North America. The stings of all of them are painful, and sometimes deadly.

How Many Species of Scorpions Can Kill People?

Only 25 species of scorpions found in the world are deadly to humans. The deadliest are the Indian red scorpion (Scorpio tamulus) found in India, Nepal, and Pakistan and the Deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus) of North Africa and the Middle East.

Of the 70 or so species found in North America, only the bark scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda) is considered deadly to humans.

Where in a House Might You Find a Scorpion?

Scorpions prefer dark, cool areas, so in a home they are found in:

● Bathroom
● Kitchen
● Attic
● Baseboards
● Closets
● Crawl spaces 

Are Scorpions Attracted to Basements?

Basements are dark, damp, and free from predators, so scorpions gravitate to them. Basements also attract the food the scorpions like: beetles, spiders, crickets, and centipedes. Once there, scorpions aren’t likely to leave on their own.

When to Call a Pest Control Pro

While the sting of a scorpion isn’t likely to kill you, if you see even one or live in an area where they are known to live, get rid of them either DIY or hire a pest conrol pro near you.

And to keep scorpions away? Make your home uninviting to scorpions. You also should make it a point to be smart about how you do things (wear gloves and long pants while doing yard work, don’t stick your hands into places you can’t see, don’t leave wet towels out).

Main Image Credit: Joshua Tree National Park / Flickr / Public Domain

Ted Rodgers

Ted Rodgers has been an editor and writer for a half century at least, and has had to deal with pests throughout. His home is still standing, which is one (small) definition of success in dealing with them. He is willing to pause in his battles long enough to share what he has learned. He borrows from Beatrix Potter when he shares this truth about pests: “Tiddly, widdly, but not piddly.”