Out here at the edge of the beautiful desert, the word "scorpion" conjures up all sorts of warm-weather terrors. Nothing like the scorpions they feature on those tv reality shows, but still... where we live, we don't walk through the house barefoot for about 8 months of the year, and shaking out shoes before putting them on quickly becomes second nature. Every time I turn on a light in a dark bathroom, even in winter, my eyes automatically scan the floors and walls for any surprise visitors. Even talking about them here makes my toes curl.
Luckily, we don't actually get very many scorpions in the house, and I suspect it has something to do with our cats' territorial vibes. More than once, we've found a scorpion only because our plump grey cat Lucy was intently hovering over it, ready to pounce and play with it as if it were a cool new toy. We've read that most cats are immune to scorpion venom, but we'd hate to take any chances.
Still, because we prefer not to harm creatures when we can avoid it, we try to "relocate" our wayward scorpions. Nuts? Maybe, but I just feel that if we can safely return them to the desert, we should. They have a role in this universe too. (Perhaps to keep me on my toes?)
Our transport of choice is an old plastic peanut butter jar which we invert firmly over the visitor. Then we coax it up into the jar with a piece of cardstock or similar, slid carefully underneath. Quickly flip the jar, put the lid on, take it out back and send the scorpion on its way. The bonus is it's a great chance to get a quick, up-close peek at these scary little beasts. And we've hoped our goodwill might earn us some good "scorpion karma".
So now, it turns out that maybe we do have some good scorpion karma, though not of the critter kind. This pretty blue-purple wildflower I picked while hiking in the desert last weekend is called scorpionweed. It has delicate, perfect tiny blooms that emerge from fuzzy little buds. Apparently it's called scorpionweed because the curl of stem holding the unopened flowerbuds resembles the distinctive curl of a scorpion's tail.
This plant has no sting, but rather, quite a stink! It seems to be the foliage that, when brushed or handled, gives off a very strong odor reminiscent of (how to put this delicately?) an athlete's underarms after a long, sweaty game. It was a puzzling smell that I kept getting a whiff of here and there out in the desert, and at first I couldn't figure out the source.
Thanks to the welcome winter rains, our desert is now abloom with early wildflowers, mostly yellows and some purples and blues, including swaths of these pungent but very pretty scorpion kin. But we're hoping that all the wonderful rain doesn't cause a population explosion in the critter scorpions as well! Yikes, this could be an interesting summer...