Are there scorpions in the Smoky Mountains?

There are actually two types of scorpions that can be found in the Smoky Mountains (stock photos)

There are actually two types of scorpions that can be found in the Smoky Mountains (stock photos)

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To be frank, I thought this one was going to be easy.

“Are there scorpions in the Smoky Mountains?” 

I mean, I wouldn’t think so – end of story and on to the next, right? 

Luckily, I did a little research before filing that bad boy.

As it turns out, yes, Virginia, there are scorpions in the Smoky Mountains. 

“Wait, John,” you may be saying. “Scorpions live in the Southwest. In hot, arid climates. They climb in people’s shoes and sting them and they die and it’s all terrifying and hideous.” 

Yes. You’re correct. 

But hold onto your butts. There are other kinds of scorpions, and I don’t mean aging rockers from Germany. 

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Close up macro image of a devil scorpion (Vaejovis carolinianus), which is native to the Southeastern United States (stock photo)

I regret to inform you, dear reader, that the Smokies are home to two kinds of scorpions – both cousins of spiders – that thrive in the mountain climate.

They easily survive the mountain winters and can go up to six months without food.

I further regret to inform you that they are creepy as heck.   

The plain eastern stripeless scorpion and the striped scorpion live in the mountains of East Tennessee and look like something out of a 50s alien invasion movie. They have lobster-like claws and the big curled scorpion tale that is the stuff of nightmares.

They’re small compared to their Western brethren – adult striped scorpions can reach up to three inches – and therefore rely on stealth and venom for hunting their prey. 

They are not overly aggressive, preferring to avoid any fight they don’t think they can win but, according to Russell’s Pest Control, a scorpion will “have a go” at a human if cornered. 

Read Also: Where to see wildlife in the Smoky Mountains; Our top tips

 A striped scorpion (centruroides vittatus) is one of the two types of scorpions in the Smoky Mountains (stock photo)

Are Smoky Mountain scorpions poisonous?

The good news? 

There is no good news. We’re surrounded by frickin’ scorpions and everything is awful and I’m never going in the woods again. 

Ok. The good news is we’re not going to die unless we happen to be allergic to scorpion venom, which I am assured, is very rare.

For most of us, the sting of a Tennessee mountain scorpion would be no worse than that of a honey bee.

Great. I got stung by a honey bee once on the tip of my big toe and my leg was swollen all the way up to my knee.  

Never seen a scorpion in the Smokies? There’s a reason.

“But John,” you might say. “I’ve been going to the mountains my whole life and I’ve never seen a scorpion.”

Count yourself among the lucky. 

Actually, there are some good reasons you haven’t seen them.

According to Sciencing.com, scorpions are nocturnal, feeding on bugs and our fears at night before hiding from the daylight like the creatures of evil they are.

Light tan to dark brown in color, they blend in well on forest floors among dead leaves and pine needles. 

Cold-blooded, they become sluggish in colder temperatures and are most active in the summer. 

Sciencing.com says their favorite temperature is the oddly specific 77 degrees F, which, I mean – mine, too. Good on ya, scorpions, for that.

You might assume that scorpions – like other exotic and dangerous beasts, yes I’m thinking of you kudzu and that weird fish that gets out of the water and walks around – are transplants but they actually evolved naturally in the mountains.

They love the humidity and the forest litter, including dead trees, leaves and bark. 

Front view of a striped bark scorpion with his stinger raised over his back, ready for an attack (stock photo)

Female scorpions can produce 40 live babies at a time

The females of both species of Tennessee scorpions can produce more than 40 newborns at a time. The eggs grow inside the female and, at birth; the babies are live, pale and terrifying.

They climb on momma’s back and live there for a week before becoming fully independent. 

The plain stripeless scorpions outlive their cousins with a lifespan of five to six years while the striped suckers only last two. 

Several articles – articles I suspect were written by scorpions – encourage you to leave them alone if you encounter them around your home or cabin as they are very helpful in controlling other pests.

They encourage an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend kind of approach. 

To avoid having scorpions near your property, eliminate wood and rock piles. If you have rocks on your property, flatten them out to eliminate nooks and crannies where momma scorpions might have half a hundred babies. 

If a scorpion is in your home or rental cabin, move immediately. 

Just kidding.

You can call an exterminator or – if you’re brave – a thick pair of gloves should allow you to handle the creature and relocate it.

I’m more of a kill it with fire kind of guy, but que sera sera. 

In summary, are there scorpions in the mountains of Tennessee? 

Yes, yes there are. I’m moving to Kansas. 

Wait. I’m going to Google it. 

Aw, damn it. They’re in Kansas, too. 

Have you ever spotted a scorpion in the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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19 thoughts on “Are there scorpions in the Smoky Mountains?”

  1. I was there 10 years ago with family and found them in the cabin we rented. I just assumed someone from out west vacationed there and brought them accidentally in their luggage or something.

  2. Omg yes this year in March 2021 , after 25 plus years visiting Gaitlinburg Tennessee we seen one in our cabin and thought we were crazy 😜

  3. I have news referring to a scorpion sting as no worse than a honey bee would be incorrect. I have been stung before by a scorpion and they hurt severely ten times worse than a honey bee or any other bee

  4. I lived out near laurel lake in corbin ky and my backyard was part of Daniel Boone national forest and YES we had scorpions in our house

  5. Not quite the Smokies, but we live in the green mountains of north Georgia. While in bed, I kept scratching at something that felt not quite itchy, but weird. Then I felt a definite sting.

    I threw back the covers to see a blackish-brown scorpion on my pink pajamas. When I jumped up, it fell on my dark carpet! Grabbing my glasses, it took a tense 2 or 3 minutes to locate the culprit. In nothing but my bare feet, I picked up my Tony Lama cowboy boots, and I introduced Mr Scorpion to Tony!

    Luckily no allergic reaction, but it was definitely scary!

  6. My daughter nd soninlaw went one year to a cabin around pigeon forge and were lying in bed and what did they see on the ceiling yu guess right the scorpion

  7. I live in Rugby, TN and have seen them in my basement twice. Freaked me out the first time and I ran screaming…natural reaction. However, then I realized I was acting like a girl so I scooped it up in a red solo cup and brought it outside…into the woods…on my neighbor’s property.
    Both times.
    Probably the same one who found his way back.
    Little bastard.

  8. We just seen one in our bathtub in our rental cabin. I was researching them and found this article. We scooped him up in a pitcher and dumped him.

  9. Ummm yes! Just now and it’s alive. It was in the hand towel in the bathroom of our cabin. I thought it was odd that there would be one here (Wears Valley, TN). I googled and came up on this article.

  10. Yes, we have seen them in our rental cabin several different times, we were shocked at first, we have been going to PF and Gatlinburg for over 30yrs. and never saw any scorpions until the past 5 years or so, our Chocolate Lab loves to scout them out she likes playing with them, but definitely not our favorite thing.

  11. 14 July 2021
    Visiting friends’ cabin at Pigeon Forge, and just found one (3”) in the bath tub. Totally freaked out! Owner said 2nd one in 30+ years.

    Last time it was a critter spotted in the closet. Turned out to be flying squirrels.

    Maybe next time, I’ll just go directly to the zoo!

  12. Loads of them in tellico plains. I’ve seen over 100 in my first 4 months in a new cabin.

  13. We are in Gatlinburg right now and I killed one this morning about an inch and a half long in one of the bathroom sinks in our rental cabin. Thought it was a cockroach at first but upon closer examination determined it was a scorpion. First time for everything I guess. Maybe I will get a hazard refund from management here at the resort! LOL! Just glad my wife didn’t see it and I’m sure not going to tell her until we get home!!!

  14. Just got back from vacation in Sevierville, TN. Our cabin was up a mountain and sure enough my min pin rooted out a Scorpion about an inch and a half long then batted it around while we all had mini heart attacks until she ate it. 🤮 the crunch was terrifying. Had to call the vet who assured us we would know right away if she had a bad reaction. The next day found a few small dead ones in the pool. Whyyyyyyyy

  15. Just found a scorpion in the tub of my beautiful rental cabin off Wears Valley Rd…I have been here a zillion times and have never seen them nor knew they had them here! Ugh

  16. We are in linden, tn, about 75 mi west of Nashville n have found them on our property a couple of times in last 30 yrs. Red non stripped, once in a pile of brick n once in a pile of firewood. I got stung 1st time before I knew what they were. Was sick for day & a half. I look carefully now.

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