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One of the most venomous scorpions in the country found in Palm Desert Neighborhood

The two scorpions below have been found in the Coachella Valley.

The one on the left is a Dune Scorpion, a native species in the region.

While the one on the right is a Bark Scorpion, an invasive species that's only been spotted in two valley cities.

The Bark Scorpion is known to pack one of the most potent stings in the country. When we last reported on the Bark Scorpion back in July, none of our local hospitals carried the needed anti-venom.

We were there while the Coachella Valley Vector Control District found the Bark Scorpion in a Palm Desert neighborhood for the first time.

Dr. William Hayes, a Biology Professor at Loma Linda University said, "This is an unpleasant and unwelcome invasion.” 

Concerned residents and biologists joined the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District to comb through a Palm Desert neighborhood off of Cook Street. There were all in search of the Bark Scorpion, one of the most venomous scorpions in North America.

Some native species are much less of a threat. During our search Dr. Hayes found a Dune Scorpion.

"If it stings me it’ll only hurt about 10 minutes," said Dr. Hayes.

About half an hour into our search, we found several scorpions that fit the description of a Bark Scorpion.

What makes a Bark Scorpion different from a native scorpion?

They were hidden in crevices, like bricks and landscape rocks, trying to make a quick escape.

"It's either Arizona or Baja Bark Scorpion...There's a genetic study that suggests they're different. But it was not based on large sample size. So I don't have a lot of confidence that they're distinct species," said Dr. Hayes.

Unlike our native scorpion species, a Bark Scorpion's sting can put you in the hospital.

"So you're highly unlikely to die, you might wish you were dead, but you're gonna do okay...It's gonna hurt a long time, and you may have some symptoms of neurotoxicity, and some systemic symptoms that can linger for days," said Dr. Hayes.

In the event of severe Bark Scorpion sting, Dr. Hayes says the sooner you get to a physician and access anti-venom the better.

I asked officials with the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District if they plan on reaching out to our local valley hospitals to help make the anti-venom available.

"We do have a really good relationship with a lot of our hospitals and a lot of our nurses. So it is something that we'd be happy to share with them, and just let them know that it's there. It's not really under our purview to say what they should have at their hospitals," said Tammy Gordon with the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.

When asked if the Bark Scorpion could spread to other valley cities, Dr. Hayes said, "They're gonna spread. And the reality is they could spread extensively and they're a nuisance, you can't keep them out of your homes very well, I mean, if you have a crack or something, that's the thickness of a credit card, they're gonna get in."

This isn't the Bark Scorpions first appearance in the valley however. Back in 2016 the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District verified the Bark Scorpion was in North Indio.

"We'd love to help the neighborhood try to figure out how they can help themselves, you know, show them how they can go hunting and try to do that exclusion for themselves," said Gordon.

Officials say if you don't feel comfortable getting rid of the bark scorpion yourself, it's best to leave it to the professionals or leave them alone for now.

We reached out to our local hospitals to see if they're now carrying the anti-venom for a Bark Scorpion sting.

A spokesperson with Desert Care Network said in a statement to News Channel 3, "Neither JFK nor Desert Regional Medical Center stock this very specific anti-venom."

The spokesperson adds they would have to get it directly from a manufacturer because their distributors do not have it available for order. Desert Care Networks adds they're working to connect with the Vector Control District to assess the risk.

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Bianca Ventura

Bianca Ventura joined KESQ News Channel 3 as a reporter in February 2022.


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