How to Find a Scorpion

Scorpions Night LightAmbience: Nocturnal Desert Scorpions are nocturnal and hard to find. That is, until scientists discovered a trick for locating them at night. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Esposito: Scientists so far have discovered about 2500 species of scorpions in the world.Lauren Esposito is Curator of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.Esposito: That number, 2500 – the number of species that we’ve discovered so far of scorpions – really only represents somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of the total number of scorpion species on Earth, so there’s really a lot remaining for us to discover.I do a lot of fieldwork. So I spend a lot of time out in the jungles and deserts and unexplored places of the Earth looking for scorpions. And in many of those places, the scorpions that I encounter are species that are completely new to science; nobody has ever seen them before.It used to be that in order to find scorpions, it required a whole lot of luck. You went out during the day and rolled over rocks, and look under logs, and peeled back the bark of trees, and looked in any little nook and cranny that you could possibly think of for a scorpion. But now, what we use is an ultraviolet light, which many people call a “black light.” It’s a light that’s kind of purple in hue when we look at it.And a really interesting fact about scorpions is that they fluoresce under ultraviolet light. And what that allows us to do as scientists is see them very easily. And so since this discovery was made in the 1970s, of scorpions fluorescing under ultraviolet light, the number of species that we’ve discovered has gone up dramatically, because we now have a really useful tool in finding scorpions.More about scorpions in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. You can hear this and previous programs on our podcast.

How to Find a Scorpion

What makes a scorpion glow in the dark?
Air Date:11/01/2019
Scientist:
Transcript:

Scorpions Night LightAmbience: Nocturnal Desert Scorpions are nocturnal and hard to find. That is, until scientists discovered a trick for locating them at night. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Esposito: Scientists so far have discovered about 2500 species of scorpions in the world.Lauren Esposito is Curator of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.Esposito: That number, 2500 - the number of species that we've discovered so far of scorpions - really only represents somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of the total number of scorpion species on Earth, so there's really a lot remaining for us to discover.I do a lot of fieldwork. So I spend a lot of time out in the jungles and deserts and unexplored places of the Earth looking for scorpions. And in many of those places, the scorpions that I encounter are species that are completely new to science; nobody has ever seen them before.It used to be that in order to find scorpions, it required a whole lot of luck. You went out during the day and rolled over rocks, and look under logs, and peeled back the bark of trees, and looked in any little nook and cranny that you could possibly think of for a scorpion. But now, what we use is an ultraviolet light, which many people call a "black light." It's a light that's kind of purple in hue when we look at it.And a really interesting fact about scorpions is that they fluoresce under ultraviolet light. And what that allows us to do as scientists is see them very easily. And so since this discovery was made in the 1970s, of scorpions fluorescing under ultraviolet light, the number of species that we've discovered has gone up dramatically, because we now have a really useful tool in finding scorpions.More about scorpions in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. You can hear this and previous programs on our podcast.