Does Colorado Have Scorpions?

Scorpions are often associated with hot, dry desert environments, so you may be surprised to learn that Colorado, with its mountains and cold winters, is home to these infamous arachnids. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, Colorado does have scorpions. However, only one species, the Striped Scorpion, is native to the state.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about scorpions in the Centennial State. We’ll discuss the species found here, where they live, how dangerous they are, how to identify them, and tips for prevention and treatment if stung.

Species of Scorpions in Colorado

When it comes to scorpions, Colorado is not typically the first place that comes to mind. However, the state is home to a few species of scorpions that have adapted to its unique climate and environment. Let’s take a closer look at some of the scorpion species found in Colorado.

The Striped Scorpion

One of the most common scorpion species found in Colorado is the striped scorpion, scientifically known as Vaejovis spinigerus. These scorpions are relatively small in size, typically measuring around 1.5 to 2 inches in length.

They are characterized by their distinctive yellow-brown coloration with dark stripes running along their bodies, hence the name “striped” scorpion. While they possess venom, the striped scorpion’s sting is generally not considered dangerous to humans, causing only mild pain and discomfort.

The striped scorpion is typically found in rocky areas, such as canyons and cliffs, where they seek shelter during the day. At night, they come out to hunt for small insects and other invertebrates. While they are not usually aggressive towards humans, it’s important to exercise caution if you come across one.

Avoid handling them, as their sting can still cause an unpleasant reaction in some individuals.

Possible Introduced Species

In addition to the native striped scorpion, there have been reports of other scorpion species in Colorado that may have been introduced by human activity. These species include the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) and the desert hairy scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis).

The Arizona bark scorpion is known for its potent venom and is considered one of the most venomous scorpions in North America. However, its presence in Colorado is still debated, as sightings have been sporadic and limited.

The desert hairy scorpion, on the other hand, is more commonly found in the southwestern United States but has been occasionally reported in Colorado.

It’s worth noting that scorpions are not commonly encountered in residential areas in Colorado. They are more likely to be found in natural habitats, away from urban centers. If you ever come across a scorpion in Colorado, it’s recommended to contact local authorities or pest control professionals for assistance.

For more information about scorpions in Colorado, you can visit the Colorado State University Extension website:

Scorpion Habitats and Range in Colorado

When people think of Colorado, scorpions aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, these arachnids do indeed have a presence in the state. Let’s explore the various habitats and ranges where scorpions can be found in Colorado.

Southern and Eastern Plains

The southern and eastern plains of Colorado are home to several species of scorpions. These areas provide the ideal conditions for scorpions to thrive, including warm temperatures and dry environments. Scorpions in these regions are often found in grasslands, prairies, and desert-like habitats.

One species commonly found in this region is the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus). Although its name suggests otherwise, this scorpion is known to inhabit parts of Colorado. It prefers rocky areas and can often be found hiding under rocks or logs.

Along the Foothills

Scorpions can also be found along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. These areas provide a mix of rocky terrain and vegetation, which create suitable habitats for scorpions. The presence of scorpions in these regions can often be attributed to the availability of food sources, such as insects and small invertebrates.

One species that can be found in this area is the striped bark scorpion (Centruroides vittatus). These scorpions are well-adapted to surviving in various habitats and can often be found under rocks, logs, or other objects.

Under Objects Near Homes

Scorpions in Colorado have also been known to seek shelter under objects near homes. This can include woodpiles, rocks, and even gardening equipment. It’s important for homeowners in scorpion-prone areas to be cautious when moving or handling objects in their yards.

While scorpions in Colorado are generally not aggressive, they can sting if they feel threatened. It’s always a good idea to wear gloves or use a tool when handling objects in potential scorpion habitats.

It’s worth noting that scorpions are typically more active at night. If you suspect a scorpion infestation in or around your home, it’s best to contact a professional pest control service for assistance.

For more information about scorpions in Colorado, you can visit the Colorado State University Extension website at

Are Colorado Scorpions Dangerous?

One common question that arises when discussing scorpions in Colorado is whether or not they are dangerous. While there are scorpions in Colorado, the majority of them are relatively harmless. The most common species found in the state is the Striped Scorpion (Centruroides vittatus).

Low Toxicity of Striped Scorpions

Striped Scorpions in Colorado have a low toxicity level compared to other scorpion species found in different parts of the world. Their sting is usually no worse than a bee or wasp sting, causing mild pain and swelling.

Most people may only experience localized discomfort, redness, and itching at the site of the sting. In rare cases, some individuals may have an allergic reaction, resulting in more severe symptoms.

It is important to note that the severity of a scorpion sting can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s sensitivity, the location of the sting, and the species of scorpion involved.

However, in general, the Striped Scorpion found in Colorado is not considered highly dangerous to humans.

Seek Medical Attention for Severe Reactions

While most scorpion stings in Colorado are not life-threatening, it is still advisable to seek medical attention if someone experiences a severe reaction. Symptoms of a severe reaction may include difficulty breathing, muscle spasms, intense pain, or symptoms that extend beyond the sting site.

In these cases, it is better to be safe than sorry and seek help from a medical professional.

If you or someone you know is stung by a scorpion in Colorado, it is recommended to clean the area with soap and water, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling, and take over-the-counter pain relievers if needed.

Monitoring the symptoms closely is important, and seeking medical help if necessary is always a prudent course of action.

For more information about scorpions in Colorado and their potential dangers, you can visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s website.

Identifying Scorpions in Colorado

When people think of scorpions, they often associate them with arid desert regions. However, scorpions can also be found in unexpected places, including Colorado. While Colorado is not known for its scorpion population, there are a few species that call this state home.

It’s important to be able to identify these scorpions to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

Distinctive Tail with Stinger

One of the key features that sets scorpions apart from other arachnids is their distinctive tail, which ends in a venomous stinger. In Colorado, the most common scorpion species is the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus).

This scorpion has a slender body and a tail that curves over its back. The stinger at the end of the tail is used to inject venom into its prey, as well as for self-defense.

Glowing Under UV Light

An interesting way to identify scorpions in Colorado is by using a UV (ultraviolet) light. Scorpions have a unique feature that causes them to fluoresce under UV light. This means that when you shine a UV light on a scorpion, it will glow a greenish or bluish color.

This can be a helpful tool for locating scorpions in the dark or in hidden areas.

It’s worth noting that not all scorpion species will glow under UV light, but the Arizona bark scorpion, which is found in Colorado, does exhibit this fluorescence. So, if you suspect that you have scorpions in your area, using a UV light can be a fun and effective way to confirm their presence.

Small and Flat

Scorpions in Colorado are generally small and flat in appearance. The Arizona bark scorpion, for example, typically measures around 2 to 3 inches in length. Their bodies are flat and elongated, allowing them to easily hide in small crevices or under rocks.

This makes them adept at finding shelter in cracks and crevices around homes and other structures.

While the presence of scorpions in Colorado may be surprising to some, it’s important to remember that they are generally not aggressive unless provoked. If you do come across a scorpion, it’s best to leave it alone and contact a professional for removal, especially if you have children or pets in your home.

For more information on scorpions in Colorado, you can visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.

How to Avoid Scorpion Stings

While scorpions may not be as common in Colorado as in some other parts of the world, they can still be found in certain areas. It’s important to take precautions to avoid scorpion stings, especially if you live in or are visiting regions where they are known to reside.

Seal Cracks and Crevices

Scorpions are small creatures that can squeeze through tiny openings. To keep them out of your home, make sure to seal any cracks or crevices in walls, windows, and doors. This will not only keep scorpions out but also help with other pests like spiders and ants.

Inspect Shoes and Gear

Before putting on your shoes or gear, especially if they have been stored outside, it’s a good idea to give them a thorough inspection. Scorpions like to hide in dark, warm places, and shoes and gear can provide the perfect hiding spot.

Shake them out, tap them against the ground, and use a flashlight to check for any scorpions before putting them on.

Carefully Lift Objects

When working in the garden or moving objects outside, be cautious when lifting things off the ground. Scorpions often hide under rocks, logs, and debris. Use gloves or a tool to lift objects, and be sure to watch where you place your hands to avoid getting stung.

Install Exterior Lighting

Scorpions are nocturnal creatures that are attracted to darkness. By installing exterior lighting around your property, you can deter scorpions from coming too close. They prefer to stay away from well-lit areas, so having adequate lighting can help reduce the chances of encountering them.

Remember, while scorpion stings are generally not life-threatening, they can be painful and cause discomfort. If you do get stung, clean the area with soap and water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. If symptoms worsen or you have an allergic reaction, seek medical attention.

What To Do If Stung by a Scorpion

While scorpion stings are rare in Colorado, it is always important to know what to do if you or someone you know gets stung. Follow these steps to ensure a quick and safe recovery:

Remain Calm

The first thing to remember is to remain calm. Panicking can increase your heart rate and spread the venom more quickly through your body. Take a deep breath and try to stay as still as possible.

Clean the Wound

After getting stung, it is important to clean the wound with mild soap and water. This will help reduce the risk of infection. Remember to remove any jewelry or tight clothing from the affected area as it may become swollen.

Apply Ice Pack

Applying an ice pack to the sting area can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth or towel to protect your skin from direct contact and apply it to the wound for about 15 minutes. Repeat this process every few hours as needed.

Take Pain Relievers

If the pain from the sting is unbearable, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken to help alleviate the discomfort. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.

Seek Medical Care If Needed

In most cases, scorpion stings in Colorado are not life-threatening. However, if you experience severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, muscle spasms, or a rapid heartbeat, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for prompt treatment.

For more information about scorpion stings and what to do if stung, you can visit CDC’s website.


While scorpions in Colorado are not considered highly dangerous, their stings can cause severe reactions in some people. By being aware of where scorpions live, taking preventative measures, and knowing what to do if stung, Coloradans can coexist safely with these misunderstood arachnids.

In summary, the Striped Scorpion is the only native scorpion species found in Colorado, mostly in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Stings elicit mild to moderate reactions in healthy adults, but seek medical attention if severe symptoms develop. Prevent scorpions by minimizing clutter and sealings cracks around the home. Overall, don’t panic if you encounter a scorpion, just take sensible precautions.

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