Striped Scorpion

Striped Scorpion

Centruroides vittatus
Buthidae (a scorpion family), in the order Scorpiones, in the class Arachnida

Most people are familiar with the overall scorpion shape: a flattened, elongated oval body; the pair of front appendages with pincers; four pairs of walking legs; and a long, curling tail that ends in a bulbous segment tipped with stinger.

Young scorpions are pale yellowish-brown, usually with two lengthwise dark stripes on the abdomen; older scorpions are uniform dark brown with the stripes faint or lacking.

A scorpion has a pair of eyes in the middle of its back, as well as two to five additional pairs of eyes along the front edge of its body. Even though they have a lot of eyes, scorpions have poor vision. They make up for this by having tiny sensitive hairs on their pinchers that help them detect motion. In addition, scorpions have strange comblike structures called pectines on their undersides, which are unique to scorpions. The pectines are sensitive to touch, to ground vibrations, and perhaps even to sound.

Length: 1 to 1 1/2 inches (average).
Habitat and conservation: 
Scorpions prefer glades with lots of loose rock (such as limestone or dolomite glades) so that they can hide from the sun during the day. Scorpions seek out these places, especially if there are few humans around, because here they find ideal shelter and plentiful food. Scorpions are sometimes found in buildings and shelters, as well as under piles of wood, brush, or garbage.
Generally nocturnal predators, striped scorpions prefer soft-bodied prey such as spiders, cockroaches, ants, crickets, beetles, and butterflies. They grab the prey with their pincers and sometimes use their stinger to subdue it. A hungry scorpion may even tackle small mice and lizards. Scorpions are also cannibalistic: Larger scorpions will prey on smaller, weaker scorpions.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Primarily in the Ozarks and other parts of the southern half of Missouri where glades and other sunny dry habitat suit them.
Scorpions are in the class Arachnida (arachnids) along with spiders, mites and ticks, daddy longlegs, pseudoscorpions, and others. These are all different orders of arachnids, just as the grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, true bugs, and others are all different orders in the class Insecta (the insects).
Life cycle: 
Scorpions generally live three to seven years, although some survive 25 years or more. They don't go through metamorphosis the way insects do, although they molt as they get larger, shedding their exoskeletons like other arthropods.
Human connections: 
Scorpions are venomous, and although the sting is quite painful, it is almost never life-threatening. However, just as with bee and wasp stings, some people can respond with an allergic reaction that requires medical attention. Scorpions are secretive and would rather flee than sting.
Ecosystem connections: 
Among the most ancestral of arachnids, scorpions first appear in the fossil record as aquatic animals during the Silurian period, about 430 million years ago, about the same time the first bony fishes appeared. Some of these scorpions were among the first animals to live on land.
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