Scorpions in the UK
In July 2009 I was asked by BBC South East to help report on scorpions at Sheerness docks in Kent.
Yellow tailed scorpions, Euscorpius flavicaudis, have thrived in old walls on the docks for about 200 years! Itís thought they arrived here in shipments of Italian masonry.
They are about three centimetres long and not at all dangerous to humans. The sting is about the same as a red ant bite. I was holding them whilst doing my piece to camera and they did not attempt to sting me.
View Clip here
We went to the docks at night and used ultraviolet torches to find them. Scorpions fluoresce (glow) when exposed to UV light. Some were walking around on the side of the walls and others were hiding away in cracks and crevices but, in the UV light, they were easy to spot.
They feed on other invertebrates such as woodlice and spiders. For most of the year they are inactive as it is too cold, they will be lying dormant in those cracks and crevices, but it is just about warm enough in the south of the country for them to survive. Like many arachnids they can go for long periods without food. They do their feeding and breeding during the summer.
It is estimated that there are over 10,000 scorpions in this colony.
I have had reports that there are scorpions at Tilbury docks in Essex and there used to be a colony on Ongar railway station also in Essex, not sure if they are still there. I think they have also been found at Portsmouth and other docks in the south east.
You are not likely to see them as there is no public access to most dockyards. But if you do see them do not touch them as you could possibly be allergic to their venom.
Scientific Classification of theYellow tailed scorpion (Euscorpius flavicaudis) :
Species: E. flavicaudis
© Dan Ambrose & Martin Rapley 2005