I knew black bears were roaming far beyond where they usually roam in Kentucky. I knew we had an alligator show up. And I won't even go INTO the snake situation.


So what else is out there that could make you really shake out that sleeping bag? Well, it's a breed of scorpion, that's what. In Kentucky. And here I'd long thought they were just a special surprise awaiting you on a trip to the desert southwest.

And I wouldn't be completely wrong.

According to DesertUSA.com, most scorpion species in the U.S. can be found in the southwest.

About 90 species are found in the U.S. All but four of these naturally occur west of the Mississippi River and are abundant in semi-arid regions. The highest concentration of scorpions are found in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

So if you wanted to put a "glass half-full" spin on this, we're in select company in Kentucky. Or maybe you're just squeamish about scorpions, period, and it will always be a "glass half-empty" thing.


To be honest, I have never seen a southern devil scorpion in my lifetime. I've never seen a scorpion in Kentucky, period, but this species does call the Commonwealth home. What's more--and this is either really cool or really creepy--it GLOWS. This member of the University of Kentucky's entomology department explains why:


Glow-in-the-dark scorpions? That's WAY better than black light posters. See what I mean at the 6:06 mark:


A map at inaturalist.org reveals that these tiny arachnids--at maturity, they top out at 1.5 inches long--are also indigenous to Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. They also seem to make spotty appearances in North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana.

InsectIdentification.org says that, like most North American breeds of scorpions, these guys aren't lethal. But a sting is a sting and it will hurt. There could also be an allergic reaction which, for some, would not be a good thing.

So check that map again. If you're camping where there's a chance you might encounter one here in Kentucky, it wouldn't be a bad idea to shake out your shoes and sleeping bags like we always did, growing up, when were out visiting family in New Mexico.

Out there, it's nothing to see the occasional scorpion. In Kentucky? Yeah, it's kind of bizarre.

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