August 12, 2009
Scorpions are common night hunting desert dwellers. Like spiders and ticks they’re arachnids. This one is a Gold Sand Scorpion (Smeringurus mesaensis), also called a dune scorpion. It was found one night in the Thousand Palms Oasis of the Coachella Valley Preserve in southern California. Scorpions fluoresce when illuminated by deep violet and UV light. The upper picture shows the creature in white light, the lower picture by ultraviolet (UV) fluorescence. They convert short wavelength violet and UV light into visible blue and green light. As a result they’re quite easy to spot at night: Just walk around the desert (and your bunkhouse!) with a UV light and they light up nicely. Nowadays some small inexpensive flashlights have UV light emitting diodes (LEDs) that are perfect for scorpion hunting. A scorpion’s sting can be painful, so wear good shoes rather than sandals, watch where your step and do not kill these unique critters. Photo taken on the evening of April 28, 2009.