Deathstalker Scorpion – Leiurus quinquestriatus
We are about to enter the life of one of the most feared members of the Buthidae family, characterized by grouping scorpions very dangerous to humans. This arachnid is also called Palestinian yellow scorpion, and in English, it receives several names, but the best-known is Deathstalker.
Thanks to its name we know that it is yellow, but apart from that we can observe that the areas of its cephalothorax and abdomen contain evident horizontal stripes in gray color, interspersed with others orange-yellow. In the middle of this region, we can see a dark vertical line that extends from the head to the beginning of the tail.
The tail has a dark part that contrasts with the yellow color of the rest of the body. This section is found just before the telson and is a way of identifying them, although it is not entirely reliable since other species also has this characteristic and cause confusion. However, it is a warning signal.
They have a length ranging from 1.1 to 3.0 inches with an average of 2.2 inches and a maximum weight of 2.5 grams. Two eyes are visible on the top of the head, while the other pairs are along both frontal sides of the head.
Their poison cause cardiovascular and respiratory dysfunction.
Distribution and habitat
Its range of distribution includes North Africa and the Middle East. In Africa, they inhabit in Libya, Mali, Somalia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Algeria, Niger, and Tunisia. In Asia, they live in Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey, among others.
Its habitat includes a diversity of terrains in arid and semi-arid zones with very high temperatures. They use burrows abandoned by other animals and spaces under debris, but they also dare to get inside homes.
They feed on insects, some types of spiders, earthworms, centipedes and also other scorpions, even of the same species. They are nocturnal, so hunting is carried out in the dark.
Their success is due to their capability to detect vibrations with their sensory hairs distributed all over their legs. They wait under stones, woods or other materials that allow them to conceal and ambush the victim.
The first things these scorpions use to subdue their prey are their pincers which they use to crush their body parts until weakening them.
It is not a common poison. It composed of neurotoxins and a significant amount of cardiotoxins, which cause cardiovascular and respiratory dysfunction which can severely damage the body of sick or allergic persons or children.
Its sting is very painful, but far from its alarming reputation, does not usually kill a healthy adult human. Nevertheless, the medical attention is necessary.
In medicine, the Deathstalker venom has shown much potential for the treatment of human cancer tumors, thanks to a component called chlorotoxin. Similarly, other elements of the venom are useful against the effects of diabetes.
Like other scorpions, male and female perform a courtship where they take each other from the pedipalps to perform “their dance” lasting several minutes.
After this ritual, the male expels its spermatophore on a safe surface and places the female in the proper position so that its genital opening is on the top of this spermatophore and thus can get the sperm. After this, both scorpions separate.
The scorplings are born after 122-277 days, and the mother delivers about 35 to 87 of them.
Their most common natural predators are other types of scorpions.
Young and adults have high mortality rates. Their most common natural predators are other types of scorpions, including Deathstalkers; Yes, they exhibit cannibalistic behavior when they cannot find other food. Centipedes are also common enemies who often win the battles.
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