Scorpions are one of earth’s oldest living animals, as fossil evidence suggests that they have existed on earth for nearly half of one billion years. Not only does this make scorpions the oldest living arachnids, but it also makes them the oldest living terrestrial predators, as they are believed to be among the first animals to emerge from their former ocean habitat. Considering the advanced age of scorpions on the evolutionary tree of life, it is no wonder as to why they have become one of the most diverse and widespread of all arachnid groups. Although scorpions are typically associated with the arid desert landscape that makes up much of Arizona, New Mexico and southern California, there a numerous scorpion species that exist elsewhere in the United States. Luckily, non-desert dwelling scorpion species are mostly harmless and prefer to hide beneath rocks before emerging at night to hunt prey. Many people may be aware of the fact that scorpions exist within states like Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina and even North Carolina, but it is not commonly known that wild scorpions can also be found within the states of Virginia, central Kentucky and even Illinois. This makes scorpions native to the heartland states, where residents would never expect to spot a wild scorpion.
The scorpion species officially known as Vaejovis carolinianus, and more commonly known as either the “southern unstriped scorpion” or “southern devil scorpion,” can be found in the western portion of North Carolina. Two other scorpion species, Centruroides vittatus and Centruroides hentzi, were introduced to North Carolina accidentally some years ago, and they still maintain a presence in the state to this day. However, what is most surprising is the fact that one scorpion species can be found within the state of Illinois, which is located in the center of the United States. This species is known as the the striped bark scorpion (Centruoides vittatus), which is a different species than the Arizona bark scorpion, which is the most venomous scorpion species in the US. Luckily for midwesterners who fear scorpions, it is highly unlikely for anyone to encounter this species considering its small size and reclusive habitat.
Have you ever stumbled upon a scorpion species in the midwest or eastern region of the US?