A Surprise Garden Guest

Hint: eight legs plus stinger = ?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Down the hall from my desk is Fairchild's Volunteer department, where they coordinate the hundreds of tasks accomplished by people generous enough to donate their time and effort to the Garden. One of their volunteers apparently fell from the ceiling onto their floor, and knowing how much I love animals, they brought it to me in a tupperware container:

This is a Florida bark scorpion, Centruroides gracilis, native to parts of Central America and introduced to the Caribbean and Florida. As its name suggests, it lives under tree bark, as well as under rocks and mulch. It's a shy character, and shouldn't be feared. As a consumer of roaches, these eight-leggers are our allies.

After taking lots of photos, we released this beauty outside. But not a few days later, someone found another one, female this time, in a pile of mulch:

You'll notice this one's a mother from the babies hanging onto her back. Some seem to have recently molted, evidenced by the shed, whitish exoskeletons. These scorpions, while equipped with a venomous stinger, are not much more of a threat to people than a bee sting would be. Unless, of course, you are allergic. Take a close look, and you'll notice they appear purple or bluish. The babies are slightly transparent, with orange foreclaws (called chelae) and blue bodies.