10 Fascinating Facts About Scorpions

10 Fascinating Facts About Scorpions

Michael Mike L. Baird flickr.bairdphotos.com/Getty Images

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Most people know scorpions can inflict a painful sting, but not much else about the amazing arthropods. Find out ten fascinating facts about scorpions.

They Give Birth to Live Young

Dave Hamman/Getty Images

Unlike insects, which generally deposit eggs outside their bodies, scorpions produce live babies, a practice known as viviparity. Some scorpions develop within a membrane, where they receive nourishment both from a yolk and from their mothers. Others develop without a membrane and receive nourishment directly from their mothers. The gestational stage can be as short as two months, or as long as 18 months, depending on the species. After birth, the newborn scorpions ride on their mother’s back, where they remain protected until they molt for the first time. After this, they disperse.

They Have Long Life Spans


Most arthropods have relatively brief lives compared to other animals. Many insects live just weeks or months. Mayflies last just a few days. But scorpions are among the arthropods with the longest lifespans. In the wild, scorpions typically live from two to ten years. In captivity, scorpions have lived as long as 25 years.

They Are Ancient Organisms

John Cancalosi/Getty Images

Were you able to travel back in time 300 million years, you would encounter scorpions that look remarkably similar to their descendants living today. Fossil evidence shows that scorpions have remained largely unchanged since the Carboniferous period. The first scorpion ancestors likely lived in the seas, and may even have had gills. By the Silurian period, 420 million years ago, some of these creatures had made their way onto land. Early scorpions may have had compound eyes.

They Can Survive Just About Anything

Arthropods have lived on land for over 400 million years. Modern scorpions can live as long as 25 years. That’s no accident. Scorpions are champions of survival. A scorpion can live for a full year without food. Because they have book lungs (like horseshoe crabs), they can stay submerged underwater for up to 48 hours and survive. Scorpions live in harsh, dry environments, but they can live on only the moisture they obtain from their food. They have extremely low metabolic rates and require only a tenth of the oxygen of most insects. Scorpions seem virtually indestructible.​

Scorpions Are Arachnids

Ciar/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Scorpions are arthropods that belong to the class Arachnida, the arachnids. The arachnids include spiders, harvestmen, ticks and mites, and all manner of scorpion-like creatures that aren’t really scorpions: whipscorpions, pseudoscorpions, and windscorpions. Like their arachnid cousins, scorpions have two body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen) and four pairs of legs. Although scorpions share anatomical similarities with all of the other arachnids, scientists who study their evolution believe they are most closely related to harvestmen (Opiliones).

Scorpions Dance Before Mating

prof.bizzarro/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Scorpions engage in an elaborate courtship ritual known as the promenade à deux (literally, a walk for two). The dance begins when the male and female make contact. The male takes his partner by her pedipalps ​and gracefully walks her back and forth until he finds a proper location for his spermatophore. Once he deposits his package of sperm, he leads the female over it and positions her genital opening so she can take up the sperm. In the wild, the male usually makes a quick departure once mating is completed. In captivity, the female often devours her mate, having worked up an appetite from all the dancing.

They Glow in the Dark

Richard Packwood/Getty Images

For reasons that scientists are still debating, scorpions glow under ultraviolet light. A scorpion’s cuticle, or skin, absorbs ultraviolet light and reflects it as visible light. This makes the work of scorpion researchers considerably easier. They can take a black light into scorpion habitat at night and make their subjects light up! Though only about 600 scorpion species were known a few decades ago, scientists have now documented and collected close to 2,000 kinds of scorpions by using UV lights to locate them. When a scorpion molts, its new cuticle is initially soft and doesn’t contain the substance that causes fluorescence. So, recently molted scorpions don’t glow in the dark. Scorpion fossils can still fluoresce, despite spending hundreds of millions of years embedded in rock.

They Eat Just About Anything

Pavel Kirillov/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Scorpions are nocturnal hunters. Most scorpions prey on insects, spiders, and other arthropods, but some feed on grubs and earthworms. Larger scorpions can eat larger prey, of course, and some are known to feed on small rodents and lizards. While many will eat whatever they find that seems appetizing, others specialize in particular prey, such as certain families of beetles or burrowing spiders. A hungry mother scorpion will eat her own babies if resources are scarce.

Scorpions Are Venomous

Yes, scorpions do produce venom. The scary-looking tail is actually 5 segments of the abdomen, curved upward, with a final segment called a telson at the end. The telson is where the venom is produced. At the tip of the telson is a sharp needle-like structure called the aculeus. That’s the venom delivery apparatus. A scorpion can control when it produces venom and how potent the venom is, depending on whether it needs to kill prey or defend itself from predators.

Scorpions Aren’t That Dangerous to People

PETER PARKS/Staff/Getty Images

Sure, scorpions can sting, and being stung by a scorpion isn’t exactly fun. But the truth is, with few exceptions, scorpions can’t do much harm to humans. Of the nearly 2,000 known species of scorpions in the world, only 25 are known to produce venom powerful enough to pack a dangerous punch to an adult. Young children are at greater risk, simply because of their smaller size. In the U.S., there’s only one scorpion that is worth worrying about. The Arizona bark scorpion, Centruroides sculpturatus, does produce venom strong enough to kill a small child. Fortunately, antivenom is widely available in medical facilities throughout its range, so deaths are rare.

See also:  Common UK insect identification - Woodland Trust


Bartlett, Troy. «Order Scorpiones — Scorpions.» Iowa State University Department of Entomology, February 16, 2004.

Capinera, John L. «Encyclopedia of Entomology.» 2nd edition, Springer, September 17, 2008.

Pearson, Gwen. «Luminous Beauty: The Secret World of Fluorescent Arthropods.» Wired, Condé Nast, November 20, 2013.

Polis, Gary A. «The Biology of Scorpions.» 0th Edition, Stanford Univ Pr, May 1, 1990.

Putnam, Christopher. «Not So Scary Scorpions.» Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist, September 27, 2009.

Stockwell, Dr. Scott A. «Fluorescence in Scorpions.» Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD.


10 Fascinating Facts About Caterpillars

Interesting Behaviors and Traits You Probably Never Knew

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Surely you’ve seen a caterpillar in your lifetime, and you’ve probably even handled one, but how much do you know about Lepidopteran larvae? These cool facts about caterpillars will give you new respect for what remarkable creatures they are.

A Caterpillar Has Just One Job—to Eat

During the larval stage, the caterpillar must consume enough to sustain itself through its pupal stage and into adulthood. Without proper nutrition, it may not have the energy to complete its metamorphosis. Malnourished caterpillars may reach adulthood but be unable to produce eggs. Caterpillars can eat an enormous amount during a life cycle stage that typically lasts several weeks. Some consume 27,000 times their body weight during their lifetime.  

Caterpillars Increase Their Body Mass by as Much as 1,000 Times or More

The larval stage of the life cycle is all about growth. Within the span of a few weeks, the caterpillar will grow exponentially.   Because its cuticle, or skin, is only so pliable, the caterpillar will molt multiple times as it gains size and mass. The stage between molts is called an instar, and most caterpillars go through 5 to 6 instars before pupating.   No wonder caterpillars consume so much food!

A Caterpillar’s First Meal Is Usually Its Eggshell

In most cases, when a caterpillar ecloses (hatches) from its egg, it will consume the remainder of the shell. The outer layer of the egg, called the chorion, is rich in protein and provides the new larva with a nutritious start.

A Caterpillar Has as Many as 4,000 Muscles in Its Body

That’s one seriously muscle-bound insect! By comparison, humans have just 650 muscles in a considerably larger body.   The caterpillar’s head capsule alone consists of 248 individual muscles.   About 70 muscles control each body segment. Remarkably, each of the 4,000 muscles is innervated by one or two neurons.  

Caterpillars Have 12 Eyes

On each side of its head, a caterpillar has 6 tiny eyelets, called stemmata, arranged in a semi-circle. One of the 6 eyelets is usually offset a bit and located closer to the antennae. You would think an insect with 12 eyes would have excellent eyesight, but that’s not the case. The stemmata serve merely to help the caterpillar differentiate between light and dark. If you watch a caterpillar, you’ll notice it sometimes moves its head from side to side. This most likely helps it judge depth and distance as it navigates somewhat blindly.  

Caterpillars Produce Silk

Using modified salivary glands along the sides of their mouth, caterpillars can produce silk as needed. Some caterpillars like gypsy moths disperse by «ballooning» from the treetops on a silken thread. Others such as eastern tent caterpillars or webworms construct silk tents in which they live communally. Bagworms use silk to join dead foliage together into a shelter. Caterpillars also use silk when they pupate, either to suspend a chrysalis or construct a cocoon.

Caterpillars Have 6 Legs, Just as Adult Butterflies or Moths Do

There are way more than 6 legs on most caterpillars you’ve seen, but most of those legs are false legs called prolegs, which help the caterpillar hold onto plant surfaces and allow it to climb. The 3 pairs of legs on the caterpillar’s thoracic segments are the true legs, which it will retain into adulthood. A caterpillar may have up to 5 pairs of prolegs on its abdominal segments, usually including a terminal pair on the hind end.  

Caterpillars Move in a Wavelike Motion, From Back to Front

Caterpillars with a full complement of prolegs move in a fairly predictable motion. Usually, the caterpillar will first anchor itself using the terminal pair of prolegs and then reach forward with one pair of legs at a time, starting from the hind end. There’s more going on than just leg action, though. The caterpillar’s blood pressure changes as it moves forward, and its gut, which is basically a cylinder suspended inside its body, advances in sync with the head and rear end. Inchworms and loopers, which have fewer prolegs, move by pulling their hind ends forward in contact with the thorax and then extending their front half.

Caterpillars Get Creative When It Comes to Self Defense

Life at the bottom of the food chain can be tough, so caterpillars employ all kinds of strategies to avoid becoming a bird snack. Some caterpillars, such as the early instars of black swallowtails, look like bird droppings. Certain inchworms in the family Geometridae mimic twigs and bear markings that resemble leaf scars or bark.

Other caterpillars use the opposite strategy, making themselves visible with bright colors to advertise their toxicity. A few caterpillars, like the spicebush swallowtail, display large eyespots to deter birds from eating them. If you’ve ever tried to take a caterpillar from its host plant only to have it fall to the ground, you’ve observed it using thanatosis to thwart your efforts to collect it. A swallowtail caterpillar can be identified by its smelly osmeterium, a special defensive stink gland just behind the head.

Many Caterpillars Use the Toxins From Their Host Plants to Their Own Advantage

Caterpillars and plants co-evolve. Some host plants produce toxic or foul-tasting compounds meant to dissuade herbivores from munching their foliage, but many caterpillars can sequester the toxins in their bodies, effectively using these compounds to protect themselves from predators. The classic example of this is the monarch caterpillar and its host plant, milkweed. The monarch caterpillar ingests glycosides produced by the milkweed plant. These toxins remain within the monarch through adulthood, making the butterfly unpalatable to birds and other predators.


Facts About Insects and Bugs

Night butterflies have ears on their wings so they can avoid bats.

Monarch caterpillars shed their skin four times before they become a chrysalis, growing over 2700 times their original size.

There may be as many as 3,000 different kinds of insects — more than all the other animal and plant species combined.

See also:  Garden Guides, Facts on the Tulip Poplar Tree

Of the huge numbers of insects, only a tiny amount, one percent, are harmful to humans. Most insects are harmless or actually beneficial. For example, without bees to pollinate flowers, plants would not have a way of reproducing and we wouldn’t have anything to eat!

Locusts can eat their own weight in food in a day. A person eats his own body weight in about half a year.

The earliest fossil cockroach is about 280 million years old – 80 million years older than the first dinosaurs!

The desert locust is the world’s most destructive insect. It can eat it’s own weight in food every day. Large swarms can gobble up to 20,000 tons of grain and plants in a day.

The honeybee has to travel an average of 43,000 miles to collect enough nectar to make a pound of honey!

Out of every 1,000 Mosquitos, one female carries a disease that could be fatal to humans.

Honeybees have hair on their eyes.

The average housefly lives for one month.

There is only one insect that can turn its head — the praying mantis.

A slug has four noses.

Some male spiders pluck their cobwebs like a guitar, to attract female spiders.

A mosquito flaps its wings 500 times a second.

Only male crickets can chirp.

Baby robins eat 14 feet of earthworms every day!

About 80% of the Earth’s animals are insects!

The common garden worm has five pairs of hearts.

Dragonflies can fly up to 50 miles per hour.

The earliest fossil cockroach is about 280 million years old – 80 million years older than the first dinosaurs!

The praying mantis is the only insect that can look behind its shoulders.

One kind of insect called a spittlebug, lays its eggs in a big nest of saliva bubbles. I guess no predator would look for a meal in there!

A snail can sleep for 3 years straight!

The heaviest insect in the world weights 2.5 ounces.

A cockroach can live for up to 3 weeks without its head!

A butterfly has its taste receptors in its feet!

The mayfly only lives for 8 hours!

The female black widow’s poison is 15 times deadlier than a rattlesnake’s!

There are worms in Australia that are over 4 Feet Long!

The weight of all the termites in the world outweigh the weight of all humans 10 to 1!


Facts on Mealworms for Kids

Video of the Day

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Mealworms are often raised as pet food for lizards, fish and birds. Many fisherman also admire these little wigglers for their lasting power when dangled in the water on the end of a hook. It’s not unusual for people to raise their own mealworms for these reasons, and sometimes it’s only then that people realize that a mealworm isn’t the final stage of an insect, it’s just one stage of a darkling beetle’s development.

Where Mealworms Come From

All mealworms get started when an adult darkling beetle lays her eggs in the soil in and around her home. The eggs stay in the soil for anywhere from a few days to more than a month before they hatch. How long it takes them to hatch depends on how warm and humid the environment is. People who want to raise mealworms keep their cages warmer than room temperature, but 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is okay for mealworms if you aren’t in a hurry. After hatching, each egg releases a tiny mealworm that almost immediately begins to eat.

What Happens Next

Mealworms have exoskeletons, which means their bodies are supported from the outside, not the inside. Since exoskeletons are hard, the mealworms’ skins can’t grow with them, so they shed their skins a few times as they grow in a process called molting. Mealworms that have just molted are usually very pale compared with those whose skins have hardened and turned tan or brown. When they’ve eaten enough, the mealworms are ready to pupate, and they make hard shells around themselves to protect them while they change into beetles. After a week or two, fully grown darkling beetles emerge from the pupae.

What They Eat

Mealworms like all kinds of foods, and some of their favorites have the word “meal” in them. They will eat oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains crushed into meal such as wheat and milo. In the wild, they eat fungus, seeds and decaying plants, but captive mealworms often eat dog or cat food, old cereal, chicken food, birdseed, flour, fruits and vegetables. They are mostly vegetarians, but sometimes they also eat each other, especially if conditions are poor or if they are overcrowded.

Open Wide

Some people think that raising and eating mealworms might be a good way to increase how much protein is available for people to include in their diets. Cattle, pigs and chickens all need lots of space compared to how much room you need to grow a nice crop of mealworms. The mealworms use more energy than you might expect, though. It takes about the same amount of energy to raise a pound of mealworms as it does to raise a pound of pork because the mealworms have to be kept warm all the time or they won’t grow well.


All about dogs: 101 fun facts

Your dog is your best friend but there’s a lot you might not know about him! Whether your dog is young or old, these fun facts about dogs will give you 101 new reasons to love your furry friend:

  1. Puppies love games such as hide and seek! Hide, then call your pup’s name so she can try to find you.
  2. Dogs can learn more than 1000 words.
  3. Big happy «helicopter» tail wagging is one sign of a really nice dog
  4. Upright, stiff, rapid tail movement is not wagging or «friendly» but indicates a dog who’s rather excited and focused.
  5. Puppies grow to half their body weight in the first four to five months!
  6. Puppies then take a year or more to gain the other half of their body weight.
  7. Puppies can sleep 18 to 20 hours a day during that rapid body growth phase.
  8. Dogs sometimes appear to smile — much like humans — with open mouth grinning. This may indicate a relaxed, submissive state.
  9. Tired puppies get cranky just like little kids. If you have a fussy puppy, try nap time.
  10. The fastest breed, the Greyhound, can run up to 44 miles per hour.
  11. Perky-eared dogs hear sounds better than floppy-eared dogs.
  12. There are about 400 million dogs in the world.
  13. The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed, according to the American Kennel Club.
  14. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs.
  15. The average dog lives 10 to 14 years.
  16. In general, smaller breeds live longer than larger breeds.
  17. The world’s oldest breed, the Saluki, originated in Egypt around 329 B.C.
  18. According to a study shared by Cornell University, dogs were domesticated between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago.
  19. Thomas Jefferson helped enact a dog tax in Virginia, because he was annoyed that dogs were killing his sheep.
  20. Stroking dogs and gazing into their eyes releases the «feel good» hormone oxytocin for both people and dogs.
  21. Dogs are omnivores — they eat meat, grains and vegetables.
  22. The heaviest breed, the Mastiff, weighs about 200 pounds.
  23. More than half of all U.S. presidents have owned dogs.
  24. President Calvin Coolidge owned at least a dozen dogs.
  25. Just like human fingerprints, no two dogs’ nose prints are alike.
  26. At about 6 inches, the Chihuahua is the shortest breed.
  27. Irish Wolfhounds, the tallest breed, are 30 to 35 inches tall.
  28. A Russian dog named Laika was the first animal in space, traveling around Earth in 1957.
  29. Dogs who bark the most: Miniature Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Fox Terriers and West Highland White Terriers.
  30. Puppies have 28 teeth and adult dogs have 42.
  31. The best age to bring a puppy home is 8 to 12 weeks.
  32. Dogs can see best at dawn and dusk.
  33. Dogs aren’t colorblind but their eyes don’t have receptors for red. They see in shades of black and white and also in shades of blue and yellow.
  34. New puppies have heat sensors in their noses to help find their moms while their eyes and ears are closed.
  35. A dog’s sense of smell is reduced by up to 40 percent when he’s overheated and panting.
  36. Highly trainable dog breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Collies are more kid-friendly than some other breeds.
  37. Bichons, Portuguese Water Dogs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Maltese and Poodles are all good choices if you have allergies since they shed less than other breeds.
  38. More than one in three U.S. families owns a dog.
  39. The average number of puppies in a litter is four to six.
  40. There are nearly 14,000 animal shelters and rescue groups across North America.
  41. Service dogs are recognized in the U.S. as «necessary medical equipment.»
  42. Therapy dogs, who bring healing to individuals and families by visiting hospitals,
    schools or retirement homes, differ from service dogs, who assist individuals who have disabilities.
  43. The Newfoundland has a water-resistant coat and webbed feet.
  44. As Disney’s Cruella De Vil was aware, Dalmatian puppies are born pure white and develop spots as they grow older.
  45. Dogs sweat through the pads of their feet.
  46. Dogs have three eyelids, including one to keep their eyes moist and protected.
  47. Chow Chows are born with pink tongues, which turn blue-black at 8 to 10 weeks.
  48. Dogs are pack animals — they don’t enjoy being alone.
  49. In ancient China, people kept warm by putting dogs up their sleeves.
  50. Dogs who have been spayed or neutered live longer than intact dogs.
  51. A bloodhound named Tigger holds the record for the longest ears, each measuring more than 13 inches.
  52. Bingo is the name of the dog on the box of Cracker Jacks.
  53. In 1969, Lassie was the first animal inducted into the Animal Hall of Fame.
  54. The Alaskan Malamute can withstand temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero.
  55. Petting a dog can lower your blood pressure.
  56. Stray dogs in Moscow have learned to ride the subway to find food.
  57. Over half of dog owners include their dogs in annual holiday photos.
  58. Although it was once illegal to keep dogs as pets in Iceland’s capital city, the laws have been relaxed.
  59. President Lyndon Johnson’s beagles were named Him and Her.
  60. One unspayed female dog, her mate and their puppies can produce 67,000 puppies in six years.
  61. The Basenji is the only barkless dog.
  62. Dogs are direct descendants of wolves.
  63. Puppies are blind, deaf and toothless when born.
  64. Dogs curl up to keep themselves warm and protect vital organs.
  65. A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than a human’s.
  66. The Norwegian Lundehund is the only dog with six toes on each foot.
  67. Dogs can get jealous when their humans display affection toward someone or something else.
  68. Dogs can be trained to detect cancer and other diseases in humans.
  69. A dog’s whiskers are used as sensing devices.
  70. Three of the 12 dogs on the Titanic survived.
  71. Your pup reaches his full size between 12 and 24 months.
  72. The U.S. has the highest dog population in the world.
  73. Rin Tin Tin was the first Hollywood dog star.
  74. A dog’s average body temperature is 101.2 degrees.
  75. Many foot disorders in dogs are caused by long toenails.
  76. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts both offer merit badges in dog care.
  77. The Berger Picard, Miniature American Shepherd and Lagotto Romagnolo are the newest dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2015.
  78. Paul McCartney of the Beatles recorded a high pitched whistle at the end of «A Day in the Life» for his dog.
  79. Max, Jake, Maggie and Molly are the most popular dog names.
  80. Spiked dog collars were used to protect dogs’ throats from wolf attacks in ancient Greece.
  81. Walt Disney’s family dog — named Sunnee — was the inspiration behind «Lady and the Tramp.»
  82. Teams of dogs compete for the fastest time without errors in Flyball races.
  83. A German Shepherd named Orient accompanied her blind owner Bill Irwin as he became the first blind person to through-hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail in 1990.
  84. Chihuahuas are born with soft spots in their skulls, just like human babies.
  85. Mastiffs wore armor and were sent after mounted knights in Roman times.
  86. National Geographic’s Dr. Brady Barr measured a dog’s average bite force at 320 pounds of pressure per square inch.
  87. Dogs are mentioned in the Bible more than 35 times.
  88. Obesity is the top health problem among dogs.
  89. Dachshunds were originally bred to fight badgers.
  90. President Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Terrier Pete ripped the pants off French Ambassador Jules Jusserand.
  91. The Border Collie, Poodle and Golden Retriever are considered the world’s smartest dog breeds.
  92. Smaller breeds of dogs mature faster than larger breeds.
  93. Dogs have twice as many muscles to move their ears as humans, if you’re looking for unusual facts about dogs!
  94. Female dogs carry puppies for about nine weeks before birth.
  95. Dogs are naturally submissive to any creature with a higher pack status.
  96. The Chihuahua was named for the state in northwestern Mexico where they were discovered.
  97. Dogs can be taught to count and solve simple math problems.
  98. With love and a little patience, dogs can learn to walk backwards, salute and bow.
  99. Pit bulls have been given a bad rap. BADRAP was started in the San Francisco Bay area on behalf of «pit bulls and their people» and was ranked nationally as a No. 1 high-impact nonprofit for animal welfare.
  100. Revolutionary War soldiers sometimes brought their dogs with them into battle. Such was the case with George Washington and his dog, Sweetlips.
  101. The American Water Spaniel was the first hunting breed developed to retrieve from boats.
See also:  Migratory locusts, Article about migratory locusts by The Free Dictionary

Sandy Wallace loves dogs and grew up watching Lassie and Rin Tin Tin on television. Sandy’s family has included a variety of dogs, including several German Shepherds and many mixed breed dogs. Visit her website.


No comments

Добавить комментарий

Your e-mail will not be published. All fields are required.