Deep down we all have a little bit of a nomadic side. Traveling is a passion that I hope to do more of in the future.
My family and I recently took part in a very educational and interesting activity on the San Tan Regional Park on the San Tan Mountains of Arizona... a scorpion hunt! No, we didn't don our camouflage and carry weapons. This hunt was a little different.
With a small fee of $6 per car, we started our new adventure looking at the small outside enclosures, in the fenced property surrounding the Visitor Center, that are home to a few of the creatures we might be encountering along our hike. We then made our way to the Visitor Center conference room for a little session all about scorpions.
Lining a shelf near the windows were aquariums filled with reptiles that are native to the San Tan Mountains and the surrounding Arizona lands; scorpions, lizards and snakes. Our group leader, Ranger Adam, gave our group a little test on the myths and facts about scorpions. We learned that scorpions are not at the top of the food chain, they are just like a candy to their predator, "crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside". Female scorpions actually have live young, they do not lay eggs, which I found very interesting. After the baby scorpions are born, they are carried on their mother's back, but if they fall off, or jump off, before Mom is ready for them to leave, she will not hesitate to eat them. And when it's time for them to go off on their own, if they hang around too long, she will eat them. Think about that when you visit your friend who still has that one child in their thirties who still lives in the basement.... hmmm. And if you didn't know, yes, scorpions will "glow" under the light of a black light, making them a bright yellow against the darkness.
After the myth and fact class, we were ready to head out on our hike. The best way to find a scorpion is with a black light, you can bring your own, or rent one for $3 at the Visitor Center. If you don't want to spend the little extra to rent a black light, no worries, Ranger Adam has a large enough light to share his findings with others.
We walked along the Goldmine Trail, going about half a mile up before turning around and heading back. When we started out, Adam reminded those who brought a regular flashlight, that the light from their flashlights would not make the scorpions "glow" and would actually ruin the glowing effect created by the black light, so it's best to only use them if you need to find your way, not find the scorpions.
Our goal for the night was to find as many scorpions as we could, including the "monster" scorpion, Fred, who lives along the Goldmine Trail.
About twenty steps into our hike we found our first scorpion. Yes, it was that fast! Most of the scorpions we saw were small, the most lethal size, but we did see a few that measured over an inch in length, without the tail. As for the monster, Fred... he didn't disappoint, he made his appearance and gave us all a wonderful, if not creepy, show as he ran around the brush where he had been hiding. By the end of our one-mile hike, our group had found 52 scorpions!
All in all, the experience was wonderful! I have two pre-teen kids, and it was unanimous... we would definitely do it again! If you ever find yourself in the area just south of Phoenix during the spring months, check them out.
Location: San Tan Mountain Regional Park
Address:6533 W. Phillips Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142