Vaejovis intermedius

Clubbing with a scorpion would be awesome.

They glow under UV lights, know how to dance (they specialise in promenade à deux), and are nocturnal, so no whinging about going to bed before sun up. If you ran into any trouble, its enormous pincers, or pedipalps, would save the day, and if they were tiny, you’d know their venom would instead. They’d be less fun as a dinner date, though.

Pre-digesting food at the table is pretty horrible, although watching it slurp meals in liquid form wouldn’t be that alien to the more extreme health nuts among you. And you might only see it once, because scorpions feed so efficiently they can last almost a year without guzzling anything. That’s fortunate for both of you, because one of the main causes of death for your arachnid pal is the hunger of other scorpions, and if he’s male, that includes the lady(ies) he may have danced with (and therefore impregnated) at the club.

If he does end up in her belly, you can take heart that his children will be looked after. Born live, they hitch a ride on Mum’s back for a while, living off their own food reserves and absorbing water through her cuticle, until, after about 3-5 wardrobe changes, they’re ready for the big wide world. So she may be a cannibal, but Mum does right by her babies. But this applies to almost all species of scorpion, so let’s turn our attention to Vaejovis intermedius.

Hey, scorpions date back 400 million years, so what’s an 18th century French wig between friends?

It’s not that we daren’t speak its real name: like many scorpions, V. intermedius just doesn’t have a common name, and we don’t know much about it. Beyond the usual taxonomic pokery, most of the information I found comes from the personal experience of one Kari McWest, via the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Scorpion Files.

Found in Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert and other arid areas of North America, intermedius is yellow to caramel-brown for camouflage, and finds cliffs, slopes and large rocks homely, although it doesn’t trouble itself with burrowing. It doesn’t lack for energy, though – apparently it’s an aggressive little tyke, and will even throw some milky venom your way on reflex. While it’s left to the Buthidae family members to be lethal, V. intermedius’ venom has still caused severe pain in the unfortunate people exposed to it, so best leave some for the spiders and large insects it snacks on. As per other species, it detects prey through vibrations, so another reason it would enjoy rocking in the club.

It usually has 3 sets of eyes, and if you’re badass enough to look at it here, the thin dorsal stripe along its back is basically its heart showing through. Awww.

Despite, or probably because of the delicious lure of its neighbours’ meat, V. intermedius is often found near other members of its species, so once you find one angry customer under a rock, you’re likely to find more. Something tells me you won’t go looking for one, though.

TLDR

Latin: Er, Vaejovis intermedius

How on Earth do you pronounce that? VEDGE-uh-vuss inter-ME-dee-uss

What? Non-burrowing scorpion that flicks milky venom as a reflex

Where? Mexico and USA (Texas)

How big? 55-60 mm / 2.1-2.3 inches long

Endangered? No idea, currently unassessed

Probable motto: You poke me I’ll poke you back!

Bleurgh. Are they endangered or everywhere?

No one seems to want to study scorpions, despite their apparent awesomeness, so we’re not entirely sure. Fortunately we seem to have just as little interest in their arid and hostile habitat, so their homes don’t seem to be under threat either. It obviously pays to be a venomous desert animal.

Just to prove I’m not fibbing

Biology-wise Staff. 2018. “Different types of scorpions“. BiologyWise.com.

Bodor, Aaron. 2006. “Scorpion: Vaejovis intermedius“. Chihuahuan Desert Homepage, University of El Paso, Texas.

Ecology“. No date. Revsys: Systematics of the Scorpion Family Vaejovidae.

Genus Vaejovis C.L. Koch 1836“. No date. Revsys: Systematics of the Scorpion Family Vaejovidae.

McWest, Kari J. 2010. “Species Vaejovis intermedius“. Bug Guide.

Polis, Gary A. et al. 2018. “Scorpion“. Britannica.com.

Rein, Jan Ove. 2018. “Vaejovis intermedius“. The Scorpion Files.

Sissom, W. David, and Francke, Oscar F. 1985. “Redescriptions of some poorly known species of the Nitidulus group of the genus Vaejovis (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae)“. Journal of Arachnology 13:243-266.

Sissom, W. David, and Hendrixson, Brent E. 2005. “A new species of Vaejovis (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) from Coahuilaand Nuevo León, and a key to the vaejovid species from northeastern and north-central México”. Zootaxa 1088: 33-43.

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