Nearly half the expats I know here have been stung by a scorpion. When I moved into my
present home, a big, black mama scorpion moved into one of my boxes the movers set down outside before bringing it into the house. When I opened it, I found Mama and about ten babies. Fortunately, I was able to trap and dispose of all of them without being stung.
My friend Jane recently found a dead scorpion clinging to a towel she had washed. It had apparently crawled into the hamper and got washed with the clothes. She was lucky she didn’t accidentally touch it.
Expat Dennis found out why it’s not a good idea to run about barefoot after dark in the tropics. He “got the point” after he was stung twice.
And surely everyone has heard that in the tropics you should check inside your shoes before you put them on, and to never put your hand where you can’t see exactly what you are touching. But wouldn’t it be more comfortable not to have to be constantly on the alert?
So here are 10 tips that will help you prevent stings, by helping you discourage scorpions from enjoying your environment.
1. Eliminate Excess Moisture
Scorpions need water. (So do snakes and mosquitoes and bufo toads, other non-desirables you also might want to discourage.) Check for faucet and hose leaks, etc., and fix them.
2. Get Rid of Bugs
Remove the food supply and the scorpion population will automatically decrease, moving elsewhere to hunt. Encourage geckos, keep things clean and tidy, don’t leave scrap food or rotting fruit around. Keep both your food and your garbage in closed containers.
3. Remove Scorpions Shelter Outside and Inside Your Home
Scorpions like to hide during the day. Give them fewer places to do that. Remove boxes, rocks, pieces of wood, etc. where they could hide. Especially anything next to or inside the house.
4. Put Stuff UP
Don’t leave piles of dirty clothing or bedding on the floor. Buy some baskets and get it off the ground. If you have items stored in cardboard boxes, consider replacing the boxes with lidded plastic containers. Roaches (food supply) also love cardboard, making the cardboard doubly attractive to scorpions.
5. Seal Your House
Install weather stripping at the bottom of your doors. Although the weather is not a particular concern in Panama, the strips also prevent scorpions from entering. Shut your door at dusk.
Put screens on the windows. Scorpions have been known to drop in from the tops of unscreened windows.
6. Use Repellents
Put repellent around the perimeter of your home, and around all openings (doors, windows, plumbing entries, etc.) Some natural repellents that are said to work are citrus oils and lavender oil.
7. Spray for Scorpions
You can use Raid, or wasp and hornet spray are also supposed to be effective.
Where should you spray? Recommended is a 6 ft wide perimeter around the exterior of your house, going one foot up the foundation wall, as well as around windows, doors and baseboards. Spray the interior of your closets, and any stacked materials.
8. Spread Diatomaceous Earth or Cinnamon
I am a huge fan of diatomaceous earth, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on scorpions, or else they just need a great deal of it for it to be effective. I haven’t tried cinnamon, but it’s certainly cheap enough, and easily obtainable down here. Plus, it smells good. Put either of these substances around plumbing outside and inside, as well as in outlets and in cracks.
9. Use Sticky Traps
These are said to work quite well, although finding some terrified little thing desperately trying to free itself can be a bit distressing for the tender-hearted. I don’t use them.
10. Plant Lavender
If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere lavender will grow AND you can find some to grow, you may never have a scorpion problem. The beasts are said to dislike this plant enough to avoid the area near it.
My landlady is constantly telling me to watch for the little nasties. However, since my first encounter, I haven’t seen any near my casita. That might have something to do with the fact that I don’t maintain shelter for them, sprayed the area shortly after moving in, watch for leaks, keep my screens and weather-stripping in good order and keep everything that could possibly be considered edible by ANYTHING in lidded plastic containers. Nor is there any cardboard in my vicinity with the exception of egg cartons in the refrigerator. And I have a handful of helpful little gecko friends.