Q. Can you explain why we’re finding scorpions in our home this year? — Kim W., San Luis Obispo
A. Oh, the drought. We’ve blamed so many Central Coast woes on the continued lack of rain — and here we go again. Drought conditions affect all manner of beings that are out searching for scarce food and water including the creepy, crawly things we normally don’t have to deal with very often, such as scorpions.
Scorpions are nocturnal predators that feed on a variety of insects, centipedes, spiders and other scorpions. With that in mind we could think of scorpions as our friends, but who are we kidding here? Most people only focus on one thing — scorpions sting!
What you may not know is that only one variety of scorpion in North America, the bark scorpion, has a sting that is dangerous to humans and they are not found anywhere near our neck of the woods. For the most part the scorpion’s sting is comparable to that of an ant, bee or wasp and is only dangerous if you’re allergic to the venom. While this may not be of complete comfort, at least we know our local scorpions are not deadly poisonous.
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You can minimize the chance of a painful scorpion encounter by taking some precautionary measures. Clothing, shoes and towels that have been left outside are great hiding places so give them a good shake before using them. Wear gloves while working in the garden.
To discourage scorpions from entering the home, make sure windows and doors are caulked, screens are tight-fitting, and all cracks and plumb ing fixtures are sealed. Clear all garden debris from around the foundation of your home, trim branches that touch your house, and inspect firewood before bringing it inside.
For more detailed information about scorpions, including how to safely capture one, go to http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74110.html.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.