I found this guy yesterday secreted under a rock in a limestone glade at White River Balds Natural Area in extreme southwest Missouri. Centruroides vittatus¹ is the most common scorpion in the U.S., occurring naturally in southern Missouri, western Arkansas and western Louisiana, west through Texas, Oklahoma and much of Kansas to southeastern Colorado and eastern New Mexico, and south into northern Mexico (Shelley and Sissom 1985). The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, respectively, seem to form natural northern and eastern distributional boundaries, with occurrences just to the north and east attributed to rafting or natural alterations of the river’s courses and those occurring far outside the natural range regarded as the result of human introductions. This includes not only states in the eastern U.S., but several countries in South America (Sissom and Lourenco 1987)!
¹ The generic name Centruroides is from the Greek words centr-, meaning “pointed,” ur, meaning “tail,” and –oides meaning “like” or “the form of” (the original genus name, Centrurus, was preoccupied by another animal, thus, Centruroides, or “like Centrurus“). Centruroides is often misspelled as “Centuroides” in non-primary literature.
If you squit your eyes, it looks like he’s “smiling”! Also, note the eight eyes (two dorsal and three each side laterally)! Also, I know I didn’t nail the focus on the dorsal ocelli – depth-of-field limitations prevented getting both the ocelli and the jaws. I should’ve gone f/16 but thought I’d nailed it. That’ll teach me not to bracket anyway!
Photo details: Canon 65mm 1-5X macro lens on Canon EOS 50D, manual mode, ISO-100, 1/250 sec, f/14, MT-24EX flash 1/4 power through diffuser caps. Photo slightly cropped and darkened.
Shelley, R. M. and W. D. Sissom. 1985. Distributions of the scorpions Centruroides vittatus (Say) and Centruroides hentzi (Banks) in the United States and Mexico (Scorpiones, Buthidae). The Journal of Arachnology 23:100–110.
Sissom, W. D. and W. R . Lourenço. 1987. The genus Centruroides in South America (Scorpiones, Buthidae). The Journal of Arachnology 15:11–28.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009