2010 Jim Evans March 2010 Nature

By Jim Evans from the March 2010 Edition

Last night around 6 pm, I had just finished acid washing the front bathroom tile and walked into my bedroom. I was treated to my first visit from a Mexican scorpion.

Now I am a pretty big guy, but I broke the record for short distance withdrawal. I observed the 3+ inch long critter climbing up the side of my brand new queen size overstuffed mattress, probably on his way to hide under my black comforter. Did I mention that this little bugger (literally) was also black, and his long tail with the stinger clearly visible was poised for attack, evidently he noticed my presence, and was ready to deal with me? I on the other hand was not enamoured with the idea of battling this, the ugliest of bugs. Of course I immediately reverted to my basic military training, I panicked, grabbed the comforter off the bed and shook it, ignoring the existing threat. He luckily decided to drop down the side of the mattress and make a hasty get away. “Oh S–t “I exclaimed, thinking if he gets away I will not be able to sleep here ever again. (lest you think I am kidding, on a recent road trip to Southern Mexico my travel partner convinced me that the bugs on the ceiling were scorpions, ready to drop at any moment. I spent the whole night with more than one eye open)

I managed to get control the situation and efficiently disposed of this malignant intruder with a combination of bug spray and muriatic acid (yup, the stuff I was using to on my tile floors) it wasn’t pretty and he scurried around trying to avoid the copious quantities of liquid death spewing at him from on high. He finally quit moving and I figured he was probably done for. I had used half a can of bug spray and several ounces of acid, not only did I have to dispose of his remains, but the floor was a mess and my sheets needed to be laundered. As I set about my task, I started to laugh at myself for being so silly, when I realized, “what if there are more three inch black messengers of instant death?. I immediately went on a hunt for these insidious predators, I stripped the bed, removed the mattresses and started on my closet. Several minutes later, I figured that there probably weren’t any more creatures about, and if they were I couldn’t see them.

(comforting thought)
What now? Simple, the internet of course.

I entered “scorpions Mexico “and anxiously awaited the results. The first site I went to indicated that not all scorpions are deadly, and being the lucky sort I knew mine was a non-deadly kind. But, the next sentence “ in Mexico there are various Centruroides species which are deadly to humans if untreated” “ Go calmly to the nearest hospital or clinic prepared to treat for scorpion stings”.

I don’t want to be treated, whatever that entails, and I don’t want to go to the nearest hospital or clinic, (did I mention it is Saturday night in Manzanillo, and another fiesta is in full swing) I just want to get a peaceful nights sleep.

So of course I went to another site, this one much more technical and factual.

“ Scorpion stings are a major public health problem in many underdeveloped tropical countries” That’s reassuring.
“In Mexico, 1000 deaths from scorpion stings occur every year”

“A Scorpion has a flattened elongated body and can easily hide in cracks” Good news “out of 1500 scorpion species, 50 are dangerous to humans” He goes on to describe the various reactions ranging from a bee sting like
irritation to cardiovascular collapse.

The best was yet to come. “Almost all .. Lethal scorpions “with one exception belong to the “ Buthidae family” “the lethal members of the Buthidae family include … Centruroides” ..our prevalent Mexican buddies lurking in the shadows of my closets and who knows where else.

At this point I am no longer concerned about additional scorpions, but when is the next airplane to civilization?

I decided that maybe a Corona or two would help while I made plans to find alternate shelter. I went downstairs from what a friend laughingly calls my “Penthouse” and asked a neighbor if he knew about Scorpions. After several minutes of conversation with various neighbors, including Oscar from Guadalajara. I discovered; that there is time to get to the hospital (how comforting), they usually are solitary (always an exception) and the results of any given sting are pretty much up to the individuals physiology. (fine time to be turning 68).

My Downstairs neighbor Clay and I snuck back to my “ Penthouse” to dispose of the remains. Sure enough ,it was still dead. I used my kitchen tongs and unceremoniously dropped the nasty critter into the toilet and we cheered as he disappeared down the drain.

I spent a rather restless night, sleeping with one eye open. My bed was covered by a single sheet and for most of the night I wore my shoes. Of course the bug spray and Muriatic acid were close.

Having survived the night I set of this morning in search of ways to deal with these sneaky beasts.

Driving by the local dive shop I noticed my friend Carlos, a former US Marine, loading his truck for a dive. I pulled up jumped from my car and breathlessly inquired ,“I had a scorpion in my house last night, what can I do about them ? “

To which he replied; “Just step on them” Jim the Brave.

Note: after regaining my senses I realized that this was the first real scorpion I had ever seen, even though I have spent a lot of my life in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam. I have been coming to Mexico regularly for over 50 years. This however does not mean I am letting the bug spray and Muriatic acid out of my sight, and maybe after a suitable period I will sleep without my shoes, but they will be close.

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