Scorpions may be scary, but most shouldn't be feared, IE scientist says

LOMA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- It's scorpion season in Southern California.

But one scientist says that doesn't mean you need to be afraid of the eight-legged arachnids.

"It's more respect than fear," said Dr. Gerad Fox of Loma Linda University's environmental and biological sciences program, who says the stings of most scorpions native to California don't require hospitalization.

"With the vast majority of the population, the scorpion sting will hurt for 10 minutes to an hour and then be gone."

Fox says they're most common in desert areas. But there likely isn't in a city in the greater Southern California area that doesn't have scorpions crawling around somewhere.

Although you probably won't see them with the naked eye. Especially in the daytime.

"Most of the time they are out at night," said Fox. "So, if you don't have a black light, you're not necessarily sure they're there."

One of Fox's students at Loma Linda University said he's been stung multiple times.

Daniel Quinones was first stung by a scorpion that he somehow picked up while hiking.

It ended up stinging him when he rolled over in bed in the middle of the night.

"I was exhausted, so I just hopped into bed, and I rolled over and got stung right on the arm," said Quinones. "It was just a sting, and then over time it developed into a burning sensation."

Fox says scorpions are shifty creatures, and good escape artists. Many of them can maneuver beneath doors and through fences with gaps no wider than the thickness of a credit card.

But despite the creepy nature of scorpions, Fox says their venom can be extremely useful to scientists.

"There are (venoms) that show promise for pain relief, in terms of chronic pain and arthritis pain. A major one is coming out where the venom of the scorpion actually binds to cancer cells, and they're using that to detect brain cancer."

Fox says some scorpions that have come into the area from Arizona or Baja California can be more dangerous, but the stings are rarely fatal. And for the most part, they cause fewer emergencies than bee stings or rattlesnake bites.

If you find one in your house, he says you should obviously dispose of it. But it's probably not worth it if you come across one in your backyard.

"I'd say live and let live."
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