What to Do If you See a Grand Canyon Scorpion on Your River Trip
Many Grand Canyon rafting guests ask about scorpions. While we can’t deny their existence or their powerful and painful sting, stings rarely cause serious health problems. Scorpions can sometimes be found hiding in shoes, life jackets and clothing, sometimes under tarps in the morning or scurrying along the sandy beach, but mostly they tuck themselves away in the brush. They are difficult to see, because they are tan to pale in color, and the smallest of the Grand Canyon scorpions, the centruroides, is usually no bigger than a quarter.
Good rules to avoid getting stun:
1) shake out shoes, clothing, life jackets, bedding and tarps, before putting them on or storing them away
2) watch where you put your hands when climbing on rocks or sitting around at camp, wear your shoes
3) camp away from areas that have a bit of brush litter and
4) if you find or feel a scorpion (or any insect) crawling on your skin FLICK DON’T SWAT. For the best chance of not getting stung, gently flick the scorpion off of your skin with a quick movement of your finger. Even though it is a natural reaction to slap the scorpion, don’t swat it! You are more likely to get stung.
What happens if you get stung? Scorpion stings in Grand Canyon can cause a variety of symptoms: ranging from pain similar to a bee sting to symptoms that can include intense pain, tingling, swelling, nausea, twitching and numbness. In rare cases, if allergic to the toxin, a person can suffer anaphylactic shock. The elderly and small children are most susceptible to the power of the venom. No matter your age, if you get stung, don’t panic and please inform one of your Grand Canyon river guides right away so that they may monitor your symptoms.
To learn more about the scorpion, including their diet, life cycle, behavior and ancestry, check out DesertUSA’s page about the scorpion.