facebook pixel

Yes, the Bay Area has scorpions. Watch your fingers and toes.

Local sighting under a log on Albany Hill is a reminder of the presence of this predatory arachnid

by on December 07, 2011

Uroctonus mordax mordax is one of the Bay Area's four species of scorpions. Don't worry, it's venom is not deadly. Photo courtesy of  Pete Lauer.

Uroctonus mordax mordax is one of the Bay Area's four species of scorpions. Don't worry, it's venom is not deadly.

Photo courtesy of Pete Lauer.

As Pete Lauer and a crowd of fellow butterfly enthusiasts strolled around Albany Hill on crisp day in late November to watch this year’s exceptional run of Monarchs, they stumbled on more than just a butterfly migration.

The kids that were there, being kids, were turning over every rock they could get their hands on.

“All of a sudden there was a lot of excitement as they grouped around a log they had turned over,” Lauer said.  

Hunkered beneath was a 2-3 inch scorpion. A scorpion, you say? In the Bay Area? Vince Lee, from the Department of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences identified it by a photo as Uroctonus mordax mordax, one of the region’s four species of scorpions (there are three known subspecies).

No worries. Mordax’s venom, like those of its local relatives, is not strong enough to cause serious medical harm to most people. But its presence does shock those who thought these eight-legged arachnids, with their characteristic forward-tilting tail, are solely creatures of the desert.

“I had never seen a scorpion here before,” said Lauer.  “A lot of the people around had never really associated the Bay Area with scorpions either, so I think a lot of us were surprised.”

In fact, scorpion species live on every continent of the world, except Antarctica, including in the northern tundra. All species of local scorpions are nocturnally active and prey on invertebrates, mostly anthropods, and occasionally but rarely small lizards.

Upon the sighting, Lauer was reminded that a friend of his who lives on the west side of Albany Hill would frequently find scorpions in the shoes they had left outside and made a habit of checking them in the mornings.

This particular one under the log, however, was making no nuisance of himself.

“I think he would have preferred to be left alone,” said Lauer.  “We rolled the log back carefully, but later when we returned to give him another look he had moved on.”

Most recent in Wildlife: Invertebrates, Reptiles, Amphibians

See all stories in Wildlife: Invertebrates, Reptiles, Amphibians


axel on November 13th, 2014 at 2:45 pm

thats just cool and stupid

Rachel on June 23rd, 2015 at 4:06 am

We have at least one scorpion that I know of in the North Bay–Sonoma to be exact. I was visiting with my daughter and felt something like a loose thread in my shirt on my left side (late at night) I went to grab the thread and it moved. I panicked and threw it. It hit our kitchen table with a bit of noise. I investigated to find a scorpion, scared me! It was as stunned as I was. I was so scared that I took a napkin and flushed it down the toilet. Lately I’ve been ordering clothing from eBay that comes from overseas–I was thinking maybe it came from there, but most likely it came from right here, meaning, there’s more?

Mickie Scott on April 16th, 2016 at 2:10 am

We rescued a dog a few months ago, she is amazing when it comes to finding bugs and is a great hunter, however,,,around 1AM, let her out in our yard. She was staring and hovering over something on our flagstone patio area. It blended in with the stone so well, sure enough, a freakin’ scorpion! I didn’t know what to do, it was a pretty gross night I can tell you.

Leave a Comment





Bay Nature