Last night I had a scary encounter with a scorpion. I was lying on my back in bed, the lights off, still awake, with a light sheet over me. Suddenly, I heard a soft “thud” and felt something hit my stomach. Something had fallen from the ceiling and landed on me.

I knew right away what it was and I dared not move. I reached over to the table, grabbed the flashlight and turned it on. A big, five-inch scorpion stood crouched on my belly, its pinchers in the air and the tail and stinger cocked and ready for action. I threw off the sheet, jumped out of bed and hopped across the room.

The scorpions in Costa Rica are not particularly dangerous, unless someone has an allergic reaction. Otherwise, they can deliver a painful sting, as well as severe swelling. After many years of living in the rainforest, I’ve been stung a few times by these little critters. I would compare the intensity of their sting as a little sharper than a bumble-bee or wasp, and the pain lasts longer.

One day, while visiting town on shopping day, I stopped into the local cantina and found several Costa Rican friends hanging out, drinking beer, and I joined them. Somehow we got on the topic of scorpions and after a short survey we discovered that five out of six of us had been stung on the testicles. In every case, the scorpions had crawled into our pants or underwear and we didn’t notice. We all agreed the pain is even more acute in such a sensitive place!

Needless to say, we learned to shake out our clothes.


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