Thanks to its iconic mountains, plateaus, and famous country music scene the U.S. state of Tennessee has become a popular vacation destination for those looking to unwind, get outdoors and have some fun. However visitors and locals alike may be wondering what scorpions in Tennessee they may find when in the ‘Volunteer State’.
That’s especially important to find out when you are hiking or camping. While not all scorpion species are harmful, hikers should be aware of what they are dealing with before venturing off the beaten path.
So are there scorpions in Tennessee? There’s two main types of scorpion in Tennessee – the Plain Eastern Stripeless Scorpion and Striped Bark Scorpion. However you can also find Pseudoscorpions in the state too. Whilst a scorpion sting can be toxic, none in Tennessee are known for being lethal. Although on the rare occasion allergic reactions can make a sting life threatening.
Below we show you all of the scorpions in Tennessee. Not only do we show you photos of each, but we also explain the effects of a bite and where these scorpions are most likely to be found. We then share with you tips on how to avoid being stung, and what to do if that unfortunately happens.
1. Plain Eastern Stripeless Scorpion
The Eastern Stripeless Scorpion is native to Tennessee, and you can actually find these creepy-crawlies in the Smoky Mountains! That’s unusual as scorpions tend to prefer arid, desert climates. However whilst there’s been sightings of this scorpion throughout the state, the most concentrated sightings have been in the Smokies.
These scorpions grow to 1.5-2 inches in length, have brown legs and pincers but a darker body and tail. Like most scorpions they are nocturnal and don’t seek conflict with humans. They like to hide in cracks, under things, and in dark corners, so people get stung when disturbing them by accident. So be careful when packing away your gear in the morning if out hiking and camping.
Thankfully this scorpion’s sting isn’t that bad, and is probably the equivalent of a bee sting. Still it can cause numbness, swelling and pain. An allergic reaction could also be life-threatening, so any scorpion sting should be monitored and medically examined.
2. Striped Bark Scorpion
This scorpion is common throughout the southern United States, although it’s not native to Tennessee and was introduced by accident. There’s been less sightings of this scorpion than the native Eastern Stripeless Scorpion, but it has been spotted across the state including in Nashville.
Typically, they’re approximately an inch long and have a yellowish-brown tint to them. They also have a dark reddish-brown stripe running down their bodies. While most stings are not dangerous, if you are stung, you will likely experience intense pain, swelling, sweating, and even vomiting as a result.
These Tennessee scorpions are active throughout the day (diurnal) and prefer to hide in trees, beneath bark, and other crevices to avoid being seen. Striped Bark Scorpions are also one of the few scorpions that are known to climb trees to find prey!
As the name suggests these ‘scorpions’ are not quite the real thing, but they are from the same family and do share an uncanny resemblance.
Also known as ‘False Scorpions’, you can find these insects throughout the U.S., including Tennessee. They have a small brown body, four pairs of legs and huge pincers in comparison to their size.
In fact they look almost exactly like scorpions except they lack a stinger, and they are tiny – growing to 1cm in length at most! They are of no threat to humans, and are so small may not even be noticed.
Are There Other Scorpions in Tennessee?
There are no reports of other scorpions in Tennessee. However with the Slender Brown Scorpion and Hentz Striped Scorpion making Georgia, that borders Tennessee their home, there’s the possibility for more scorpion species to get a foothold in the state. (Related: Scorpions in Georgia).
Indeed some U.S. states have reported new scorpion species imported by accident in recent years, usually due to cargo. For example, the Guiana Striped Scorpion can now be found in Florida, even though it’s originally from the Bahamas and Cuba.
If you do come across a scorpion in Tennessee that doesn’t appear to be any we’ve listed, then take a photo of it, note the location, and contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
How to Avoid A Scorpion Sting: Four Steps You Can Take
Scorpion stings tend to happen more inside homes than outside. So there’s a few simple steps that you can take to prevent being stung.
1) Make sure you shake out any clothes and shoes before putting them on, or any towels that have been on the floor. That’s just incase a scorpion has decided to hide in them.
2) Check your sheets and bed before getting in. Make sure the bedding doesn’t reach to the floor as that could allow a scorpion to climb up onto the bed during the night, which is when they’re more active.
3) Don’t try to stomp or kill scorpions if you see them. Not only would it be a shame to kill one, they also may sting you in retaliation. If they’re inside try to relocate them using a glass and piece of paper.
4) Don’t walk around barefoot. Be careful when outside, especially in areas with lots of foliage.
What to Do if You Get Stung by a Scorpion
If stung, the first thing you should do is receive medical attention. This is especially important for children, the elderly, and people who have allergies.
Ideally, if you can bring the scorpion with you to the doctor by capturing it safely, this could help them determine treatment. Be careful not to get stung again.
Keep track of your symptoms so you can share this information with your doctor. Most people will experience mild symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbing, tingling, or burning. It’s possible to develop more serious symptoms ranging from muscle twitching to seizures to an irregular heartbeat. Severe symptoms are not very likely, however. But if you notice them, make sure you’re seeking medical attention as quickly as possible.
If you make the decision to treat your scorpion sting at home, wash the area with soap and water and remove any jewellery nearby in case of swelling. You can apply a cold rag to the area to help with the sting. Take a pain reliever or antihistamine to help with the symptoms after consulting with your doctor. If symptoms begin to worsen, head to the hospital immediately.
Scorpions in Tennessee: Our Final Thoughts
Despite scorpions being found in Tennessee, it’s still highly unlikely you will be stung be one. Even if you do, stings tend to be no more of a nuisance than bee sting.
That said, it’s important to remember that scorpion stings can induce a variety of symptoms, ranging from regional pain and swelling, to more serious complications if you have an allergic reaction. If you have been stung by a scorpion, you should seek medical assistance as quickly as you can just in case.
The most active hours for scorpions are at night, when their prey are most vulnerable. So coming across scorpions during the day is rare. However they hide in cracks, crevices and under debris during the day, so make sure you’re careful when picking things up, or putting your hands in dark places.