As if scorpions weren’t scary enough, these heavily armoured arachnids glow in the dark when illuminated by ultra-violet light. Finding them in the dark is quite an easy enough task for those who enjoy the thrill of inspecting these eight-legged creatures up close.
Have you ever stayed at a campsite in the wilderness and seen UV lights being shone on trees or in leaf litters? If so, the chances are that your fellow campers are not throwing a rave, like you might have first thought, but instead are on a mission to find scorpions. When ultra-violet light falls on a scorpion, chemicals that are contained in their exoskeleton, also known as the cuticle, shines a vibrant aqua colour, making them hard to miss.
But why exactly do scorpions glow in the dark? This is a commonly asked question that, despite scientists spending years studying, there is still no clear answer. Some believe that it might distract their prey when hunting or help them to find a mate. Another theory is that it protects them from sunlight which they are very sensitive to.
Scientists are, however, doubtful that these theories hold any conclusive evidence. As scorpions are nocturnal, all their hunting is done under cover of darkness, so the moon might just be their worst enemy giving away their location to prey. It has also been noted that scorpions are less active on fully-lit nights, leading many scientists to think that this could just be a random act of evolution. It might also be why Lésa and the team could not find them in the video above…
Although the mystery of why scorpions glow in the dark remains, our crews out in the field who share their homes with these creatures are grateful to be able to easily spot and avoid them at night. For the rest of us nature-lovers, well…we get to marvel at these fascinating rave-ready creatures and enjoy their presence from the safety of our UV torch.