Why scorpion spotting is the coolest thing ever

9 Jan

Scorpion spotting

Nights in the bush are wonderful and mysterious and just a little scary. The distant roar of a lion. The unearthly shriek of a barn owl. The rustle in the grass of… who knows what. Hyenas laugh, jackals yowl, elephants rumble.  And, if two hippos choose to have a fight across the riverbed, it sounds like the dinosaurs have returned in all their terrible glory.

You can pick up eyeshine with a torch and get divebombed by dung beetles, but all of this takes place in the dark which rolls . So to find something new in the night, something that has been there all along, is extraordinary and wonderful.

All it took was the purchase of a torch from the Khamai Reptile Centre near Hoedspruit. It uses UV light, and scorpions glow under UV light. With a scorpion spotting torch, a stone birdbath is transformed into this:

Scorpion birdbath

A fork in a tree provides the stage for this unearthly tango:

Scorpion dance

Even dead scorpions take on a strange beauty under UV light.

Scorpion beautiful death

These are all pretty harmless scorpions, by the way – Opistacanthus asper – which favour Acacia nigrescens trees because they can hide in the bark and ambush passing insects. They’re cousins of Doris the Knysna scorpion. You can find out more about them in the online version of the scorpion guide book I use here.

If you ever spend time in the great outdoors, consider investing in a UV scorpion torch. It will add a fascinating new dimension to the dark.


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