For centuries, the claim that scorpions commit suicide via their own stinger when surrounded by fire has been spread among people of all cultures. Apparently, a scorpion, when confronted with an insurmountable threat, such as a ring of fire, will sometimes opt to take its own life. But is this claim true? Can a scorpion commit suicide? Can a scorpion willingly sting itself? The answers to all three of these questions is a big “no”. At least this is the answer given by entomologists, biologists and numerous other experts concerning the topic of scorpion suicide. Despite expert claims to the contrary, some people today, upon catching a scorpion, will sadistically light a ring of fire around it solely to witness the arachnid sting itself to death rather than suffer a painful demise. There is a surprisingly large amount of anecdotal reports that describe this suicidal behavior in great detail, and in the past, many scientists insisted that scorpions sometimes do, in fact, commit suicide in certain dire situations.
Scorpions are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, terrestrial animals to exist on the planet. Therefore, scorpions are uniquely adaptable and hardy creatures. In fact, scorpions can even survive the radioactive fallout that results from nuclear blasts. Considering the evolutionary success of scorpion species, the idea that they evolved suicidal behaviors is ridiculous. Another clear problem with the “fire myth” is the fact that a scorpion species is, obviously, unharmed by its own venom, and even the venom of other scorpion species. Despite the glaring logical problems concerning this myth, researchers puzzled over this alleged phenomenon for centuries. Back in 1887, a Professor of Biology, Alfred Bourne, at the Presidency College in Madras, aimed to settle the question of scorpion suicide once and for all. In the study, Bourne mentioned several prominent scientists of his time who were convinced that scorpions sometimes commit suicide when surrounded by fire. As for all of the modern anecdotal reports that can be found online claiming that scorpion-suicide is real, experts say that the purported self-stinging is actually the scorpion reacting frantically and spasmodically to the heat of the fire.
Have you ever heard the “scorpion suicide” myth before? If you have, then did you believe it to be true? Do you still?