The bark scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in North America and can cause severe pain, numbness and tingling for 24 to 72 hours. The bark scorpion does not occur naturally in Michigan. Any of these scorpions found there are likely stowaways or released pets.
There are 41 species with 24 subspecies of the bark scorpion. They are typically straw or opaque in color, with females maxing out at 2.75 inches and males attaining a maximum length of 3.14 inches. In its natural habitat, a bark scorpion will hide out during the heat of the day and come out at night to ambush its prey. They do not burrow and can be found under rocks, in wood piles, under bark and on the underside of objects. Unlike most scorpions which are solitary, bark scorpions can be found in packs of 20 to 30 in the winter.
Different species of bark scorpions live in North America, Central America and northern South America. The species found in the United States is commonly known as the Arizona Bark Scorpion. This scorpion is found in the Sonoran Desert, which straddles part of the United States-Mexico border and also ranges from large parts of Arizona and California to the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur. It is very rare for the bark scorpion to be seen anywhere north or east of this range, although there is a small chance for one to be a stowaway in a shipment of goods or to be an escaped or released pet.
The bark scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in North America. Although fatalities are rare, a sting from this scorpion can bring on severe pain, tingling and numbness in adult humans. Shortness of breath, frothing at the mouth, convulsions, numbness and paralysis are not uncommon. Small children, immuno-compromised adults and small animals are at a greater risk of death from a sting. A non-FDA-approved antivenin existed that was useful for shortening the duration of symptoms and hospitalization. However, production was stopped in 2000 and the antivenin became unavailable in 2004. An antivenin was developed in Mexico and is being tested and currently used as a replacement.
Bark Scorpions As Pets
Only experienced collectors should consider keeping a bark scorpion as a pet. They require a 10-gallon tank with a locking screen top due to their excellent climbing abilities. An under-tank heating pad is also necessary. The bottom of the tank should contain 3 to 4 inches of substrate. The tank should have a shallow water dish and lots of places for the scorpion to hide. Pet bark scorpions can eat gut-loaded insects such as crickets. Handling bark scorpions is not recommended and every precaution should be taken to ensure they don't escape.