Live or Retire in Mexico: Scorpions

Are the Scorpions Keeping you from Living or Retiring in Mexico?

Everyone facing the decision to live or retire in Mexico, sooner or later asks herself how bad the scorpions will be. I know because I’ve spent four years in terror of the little arachnids.


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Our house is terrifying for those fearful of scorpions. The roofing and exposed rafters provide many square meters of scorpion habitat. I spent months wondering when one was going to fall on me at night as I slept.

Since one of the main reasons to retire in Mexico is to get some rest, you won’t want to have the same experience. You’ll be glad to know that accumulated experiences have caused me to readjust the way I see them and I hope that what I’ve observed of scorpion behavior will help you to enjoy a smoother transition to Mexico.

Before I Retire in Mexico I Have a Few Questions about Scorpions

When do they come out?

They don’t seem to come out unless forced out, usually by rainwater getting into their hiding places, which tends to happen at the beginning of the rainy season in June or during hurricane season in (June through November).

Scorpions are nocturnal, so it’s a good idea to wear flip-flops in the house at night.

Is there anything I can do to help keep them of my house?

Yes. Don’t leave things stacked up against walls or on shelves for long periods of time without moving them and cleaning under them. Occasionally clean around and under furniture, using a light bleach solution.

Outside, scorpions like to hide in narrow places between pieces of dead wood or under rocks. Whenever you are going to pick up a rock or move something wooden be aware that you might see a scorpion and keep your hands where you can see them.

How dangerous are they, really?

Not all scorpions are deadly, but in Mexico there various Centruroides species which are deadly to humans if untreated. If you don’t get stung by a poisonous species, you may have the unpleasant experience of being stung and it’ll hurt and… that’s it.

(For more information see:
http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic2081.htm)

What happens if I get stung? How will I know if the scorpion that got me is poisonous or not?

If you get stung, don’t panic.

Go calmly to the nearest hospital or clinic prepared to treat for scorpion stings (it’s a good idea to know ahead of time which hospital you will go to in case of scorpion sting.) Hail a taxi so that you don’t have to drive. If you want to, you could put ice on the sting during the ride to slow the poison, but this is not necessary.

Should I be checking my clothes and shoes before putting them on?

Probably not, but if you happen to be in an area where you know there are lots of scorpions, you could do this. This is also a good idea if the clothes or shoes have been sitting unused for a while. How long is a while? You decide. You don’t want to make yourself crazy with paranoia, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How do I kill a scorpion if I see one?

Stay calm and take a moment to plan how you will smash the scorpion. It will generally sit still, so you have time to think. Make sure there is no chance that the scorpion could fall on you or that it’s tail could “reach around” to sting you while you are smashing it. Once you have your plan, squash it. It’s that simple.

Scorpion Welcome Wagon for the Recently Retired in Mexico

Scorpions are not the stealthy predators we picture them to be. They are actually community oriented and ignorant of the danger they present to others. The scorpions in your house will reward you for your decision to live in Mexico by organizing themselves into an efficient welcome wagon team.

For most of the year, they’ll remain in the hidden cracks and crannies of the exterior walls of your house. You’ll never see them as you go about your business. That is, you’ll never see them until you have a guest staying at your house.

Becoming aware that you are hosting a visitor, they’ll send their field representative out to extend their warmest wishes. They want to deliver their heartfelt “bienvenidos” in person, so they’ll time their greeting so that it is the guest who will meet them sashaying along, tails slightly curled up in a hearty salute.

The guest–who will have only recently gotten over their own fear of scorpions enough to visit you in your new retirement wonderland–will call out, “Is that a scorpion?”

“Let me see.” You’ll respond nonchalantly.

You’ll go to look and sure enough, it’ll be a scorpion. (They’re quite unmistakable, after all.)

“We haven’t seen one in over a year.” You’ll say as you aim your sandaled foot directly over the hunching creature.

Now there is a corollary to scorpion sightings, which goes as follows: the less the guest believes you, the more likely he is to see a second field representative during his stay at your house.

But seriously, it seems scorpions stay in their little hidy-holes as long as they are dry. In June, when it starts to rain, they are driven out. As long as you don’t leave things stacked up in corners or along walls for long periods of time and keep your eyes peeled after a the first hard rains you won’t have any unpleasant surprises.

Just the other day we had one of those rains where we had to go around the house putting Tupperware and bowls under the leaks in the roof. It was the first rain of the season that required bowls (a 6 bowler, actually) and sure enough, near one of the leaks a large black scorpion was crouched. He was not a field representative of the local Welcome Wagon society and rather than sashaying across the floor he was trying to blend into the corner formed by the wall and the floor. He died a quick death.

You may have noticed that I haven’t included any recounts of wild chases under and through furniture nor ducking and jumping clear of charging scorpions. There is poetic justice in the scorpion-human relationship; scorpions don’t attack, they hunker. Once you have spotted a scorpion, you have won. It will hold still while you take aim and carefully squash it.

So, the coast is clear. You can make the decision to live or retire in Mexico, especially since you know that it’s your guests who will probably run the risk of getting stung. Just don’t come down at the beginning of the rainy season, and don’t invite friends until you you’re ready to see a scorpion.

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22 comments

  1. emily Jul 8

    thank you so much for this! i am unfortunately not planning on retiring in Mexico anytime soon but i did, however, find a scorpion in my room. i am so glad that i found this article beforew i tried to kill it. thank you! now i will know what to do when i am put into a situation like this again, especially since, according to this article, my room would be a perfect home for a scorpion.

  2. Ryan Sep 28

    Great article! I had a encounter with a scorpion on my visit to Akumal on the Yucatan. I left my swim trunks on the floor over night and in the morning I asked myself why I didn’t hang them up to dry. I picked them up and gave them a quick snap which was just by chance and the poor guy hit the floor with a pretty good thud. Just as you said they sit there and let you take aim. Freaked out the other seven people in our group when I told them I killed a scorpion in my swim shorts. Talking to some locals thay gave me two stories. They are dangerous and they are like a bee sting. I’ll take nether crawling around in my swim shorts. Hang it up or give it a snap befor you put it on!

  3. Julia Taylor Sep 28

    Thanks for the great story!

  4. Nicole Dec 14

    I have been living in Mexico for more than 2 years and it is only since we moved in a house that we have seen 4 scorpions. 3 outside, by the patio door and 1 inside on the wall in the dining room. The reason why they are coming out is because the nights are getting colder and they are looking for a warm place to rest, so check your doors and windows and make sure you have screens in all windows. Also, Palapas in the back yards are very inviting for scorpions, they make a very pleasant house. One thing you can do is have your house spayed by experts every month, inside and outside.

    You will still enjoy living in Mexico!

  5. Elizabeth Aug 12

    Thanks for the good article. We’ve lived in Mexico for several months and hadn’t seen any scorpions until we moved in to our third house (noise is another small nuisance!) and now I’ve found three dead after an initial fumigation, and just last night a live small one near our stove. My husband stepped on it, but now I’ve been thinking about it all night.

    I lived in Arizona almost all my life, but never really came across many scorpions, even after all the hiking and camping I’ve done. I’ve seen them here and there, but not all congregating in my own home. But I’ll just have to be more careful…

    They also have Black Widows here, which can be very dangerous (but we had those in Arizona also) and rattlesnakes and coral snakes. So, generally lot’s of things to be careful about but I just try to prepare myself as best I can. Knowing which hospital to go to is important…We’re trying to track down some anti-venom for us and our dogs.

    But Mexico is definitely worth it! We love it here!

  6. Julia Taylor Aug 12

    Elizabeth,

    See if you can see the humour in it! Let the lizards and other predators help you out, too.

    You may not want to fumigate so you don’t kill them too. We never fumigate. I just wash every nook and crany with bleach water every few months (on a kind of rotating schedule so I can keep up).

    Our house is full of daddy long legs spiders (I assume they help, but don’t know if I’m just making it up). Probably more importantly, we have a lizard or two up in our roof rafters. We hear him chirping regularly.

    I’m glad you are looking into the emergency care, too. That way you’ll know what to do if someone does get stung. Then you can let it go and not be up all night worrying. You’ll get good at spotting them so you will know you’ll have some advance warning.

    It IS worth it to be in Mexico.

    Enjoy!

    Regards,
    Julia C. Taylor

  7. Flora Dec 19

    Hi everyone. i am glad i found this article. i live in Guanajuato since about a month, and i found already 4 scorpions in the house. i am not sure about they race. they are small and brownish. i read alot about it some say they are very dangerous some not. but you can imagine i lived all my life in europe a scorpion free life, and i saw them here for the first time. i was shocked and scared. but you are right it stands still and you can kill it. i have my own method. i spray it alot and then smash it with the mop tail. it is still terifying and i hope to get over it. i am more scared about my dog, cause when she sees flies or anything else, she just goes there smelling and playing. i will have the fumigation next week see how that works.
    thanks for the article. the hummor helpes alot with these things

  8. Julia Taylor Dec 19

    Flora,

    I’m glad the humor is helping you to adjust to scorpions. I had a lot of fun writing this page.

    I have a personal opinion that the spray is actually dangerous. The poison (even the fumigation) might be bad for you and your dog. It is certainly bad for the lizards that might help you to keep the scorpions away from your home. I totally understand your desire to use it. I used poison on black widow spiders the first two times I found those, too! Still, if you can, my advice is that you try to kill them without using poisons.

    Welcome to Mexico

    Julia C Taylor

  9. Jose A Ramos May 10

    Thank for the help and the story I’m going to mexico in June and I have a great fear of them I never seem them yet but you help me over come that fear thank alot 🙂

  10. Julia Taylor May 12

    Jose,

    I’m glad you feel better. They can seem very scary, but once you learn to recognize their characteristic profile (and know where to be looking for them) you’ll be able to spot them from 10 feet away (if they’re out in the open) or to turn things over with a stick to peek for them from a safe distance.

    Have fun on your trip!

    Regards, Julia

  11. Shelley May 17

    I moved to Guanajuato about two weeks ago to attend Spanish school. Since I have been here I can count the days that I have not seen and killed a scorpion on one hand. I have read everything that I can find about these pests and the majority of people I have talked to tell me that they are nasty, but relatively harmless. The owner of the property where I live refuses to use poison because of our pets and I have to agree. In total, I have killed about 15 scorpions in two weeks and I have to admit that I cannot live here due to these creatures. I dread the nights (although I have killed them during the day as well) and it is not the beginning of the cold or rainy seasons. I am taking all the necessary precautions (closing windows and drains) but this seems a bit out of control to me. I will be leaving at the end of the month. Guanajuato is an enchanting city, but I need to get some rest. Just my two cents.

    Regards,
    Shelley

  12. Jan Aug 7

    I moved to Chapala in May. During the month of July, I saw four (very dead) scorpions inside the house. Many of the maids in this area mop the floors with “Ajax Expel” claiming that it kills all buggy critters (and that is what the label says). If dealing with (dead) scorpions is the worst thing about Mexico, then this is paradise.

  13. Julia Taylor Aug 9

    Jan,

    While I’m glad they were dead, I wonder what chemicals are getting into the ecosystem. Are these scorpions being poisoned at the neighbours house and walking over to yours to die? Are the chemicals in your own house? Do you have birds coming to your yard? I’m going to re-advocate for a standard cleaning job and allowing a lizard or similar creature to do the work for you.

    I’m so glad you are loving Mexico! Keep on enjoying.

    Regards, Julia C Taylor

  14. Connie Moody May 28

    I am looking at possible places to retire. I have been to Lake Chapala, and am thinking about Costa Rica, too. I think that the poisonous frogs in Costa Rica are scarier than the scorpions, especially if they don’t “chase” you. Do they make Scorpion repellant?? :o)

  15. Benoit Jan 19

    Hi,thanks for all nice info.
    I was wondering, how is it for dogs
    with scorpions? i have this awesome
    dog that i consider as important to
    me as a mother would love her child.

    Would my 5 years old puppy be okay??

    Also, best trick to keep them as much
    as possible outside the house?

    Is there more or less chance to have them
    in the city or in rural/farm side.

    Thank you very much.
    Ben

  16. Julia Taylor Jan 22

    Ben,

    You will be scanning for scorpions so you’ll see them at the same time as, or before your dog does. When you find one, you can point to it and teach your dog about it. Then stomp on it or take it outside to a safe distance from your house.

    Keep them outside by keeping your house clean and clear of clutter and small crannies, and allow the natural predators to live in your house — this means the small lizards that eat them and non-biting spiders. If lizards make you uncomfortable, ask yourself which you prefer, lizards or scorpions. Outside, make it nice for wild birds to visit so they can patrol your perimeter for you.

    You can also paint with light colors — especially areas with rough surfaces they could hide in, like beamed ceilings or rough cement. This will keep them from wanting to hang out and will make it easy for you to quickly spot them if they decide to explore the interior of your house.

    I can’t say it enough. Do NOT spray poisons. That kills predators of scorpions and leaves the coast clear for them to return later AND it is very bad for the environment and your health.

    Here is a link to a web site that offers tips: http://www.wikihow.com/Naturally-Deter-Scorpions

    Enjoy Mexico!

    Regards, Julia

  17. Csongor Hajna Feb 6

    it is nicely written but do you REALLY have to kill those scorpions … ? any chance you can capture them and let them free somewhere else … ? it just sounds cruel to smash them just because they happen to be at a place which was not even marked as restricted for them. I have a terrible arachnophobia still I try to remove spiders from our home instead of killing them, if feasible (i.e. I got a glass or plastic container to capture them with). just an idea.

  18. Julia Taylor Feb 7

    Csongor, Thank you for the suggestion. I think you are right. As long as the person has a place far enough away from their house that they can release them, they absolutely should catch them and take them outside.

    Regards,
    Julia

  19. natalia Apr 1

    In one month I’ve killed 3 scorpions in my house in Neuvo Vallarta. They all seem quite small, and getting smaller. The first one, I underestimated the required force, and you want to be sure to actually kill it. A mad scorpion doesn’t stay still. I’ve had someone come in and spray, but these little guys seem to love me. Thanks for the tips on the bleach. Fabuloso is a popular cleaner here, but I’m willing to make the switch if it helps.

  20. Julia Taylor Apr 7

    Natalia,
    Please don’t hire an exterminator. That’s why you are killing little ones. They are the babies that are coming back into the wide-open, predator-free territory you created for them. AND you’ll never know what damage has been done to local birds or your own health. Let there be harmless spiders and lizards in your house.

    You don’t need a harsh cleaner like Fabuloso. A Tablespoon or less of bleach in the bucket along with a dash of bio-degradable dish or laundry soap will be perfect.

    Julia C Taylor

  21. Ugly creatures Nov 22

    I live in the U.S but my parents were born and raised in a village located in the state of Guanajuato. They used to talk about how they always smashed scorpions as kids. Well, one day I went there to visit and it was there when I first caught a glimpse of these ugly creatures. I stayed at my aunt’s house, which is out in the countryside. The locals told me that you eventually get used to them. Many of them casually talk about scorpions like the way we Californians talk about house spiders. My dad once put his boots on and a minute later, was complaining about a tingling sensation on his toe. He took his boot off to check and he spotted a small brownish scorpion in there, haha. He shook it out of his boot and smashed it. Nothing happened to my dad except for some temporary numbness and pain. I moved my bed away from the wall and assured that nothing was left dangling off the bed. My clothes, shoes, and luggage were kept on top of glass table. Fortunately, I was never stung during my stay.

  22. swiss Apr 2

    I know you’re trying to be funny but I am terrified of these things. Are you totally joking or half joking or what? about visitors making the scorpions come out? Do you mean they sense a new animal in the space and come to check it out to see if it’s food? I am going to visit someone in Baja and, as I say, I am VERY frightened about this. Waking up to find one on my pillow, crawling out of kitchen cabinets or behind coffee tins and stinging you, coming out of cushions on a sofa, climbing toward you when you’re on the toilet or trying to get out of the shower. Please be a little less glib and be clearer what you mean about them coming out when new people are in the house. Thanks.

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