I was once known as the "Scorpion Queen". When I moved to Arizona 7 years ago, I killed over 90 scorpions in my Tempe home in a year.
The night I moved in I saw the first one under the sink in my master bedroom. Being the Midwestern girl that I am...I thought it was a centipede as I chased it around with a tissue. UNTIL...it stopped and raised its tail in classic scorpion fashion. What did I do then? Screamed like a 3 year old of course. My 77 year old father came running to rescue me by swatting at the scorpion with his foam slipper (I finally squashed it with a hammer).
A year and a half later I was a self-professed expert.
Where do scorpions live in the valley? Hmm.. everywhere. Do I have them in my new house now? No.
There are things you should know that can help you buy a scorpion-free home, but remember...no guarantees... They were here first and have been here longer than dinosaurs.
First, know that the Bark scorpion that lives in the valley likes wet and shady places (so why do they live in the desert? Dumb scorpion.) so they especially like the underground irrigation lines that are typical in citrus orchards. Developers have taken over many of the old orchards in the valley and built homes there so it's not surprising to note that those communities have a higher scorpion population.
However, just because your neighbor has scorpions doesn't mean you will and vice versa. Scorpions are territorial and don't like to leave an area if they're comfortable.
Because scorpions like damp places, there is usually a higher population in grassy damp areas like golf courses fairways. But, just to confuse us, they also like dry rocky areas like mountain preserves. So homes bordering those areas are more likely to include a scorpion or two with that lot premium.
And while we're talking about a scorpion or two, I've found they usually travel in pairs(isn't that romantic?). If you see one...keep looking.
So how do you know if a home has scorpions before you buy it? Well you can't for sure. Seller's do have an obligation to disclose whether they've ever seen a scorpion in their house or yard and this will be found on the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement. But just because they have an obligation to disclose, doesn't mean they will.
Your Realtor can be very helpful especially if specializing in a certain area, he or she will sometime have a knowledge of the areas where scorpions have shown their tails. But again, a Realtor isn't an expert on all communities, and just because your neighbor has them doesn't mean you will.
What do you do if you see a scorpion in the house you just purchased? After you stop screaming, relax. There are ways to help reduce the population. First get an Arizona Fly Swatter (that's a hammer) for every room. Don't laugh...it works.
Then, get rid of the scorpion's food supply~ Crickets, Roaches & Spiders. A good pest control company can help there.
If you like cats, get one and whatever you do, don't declaw it. Cats are a natural predator of scorpions. They kill them with their claws. Oh...Chickens too. They love to eat scorpions. Having a chicken in the city could be a problem with zoning though, so best to find out first.
Another trick is diatonaceous earth. This is the powder you put in pool filters. It's said to be effective keeping scorpions out of your house if you put a trail of the powder at entry points to your home (doorways & windows sills mostly). The powder is composed of glass-like particles which slice open the soft belly of the scorpion when it crawls across it. Nice.
You will be told that scorpions are impervious to residual insecticides...however a couple that come highly recommended are Cykick Bug Spray & Delta Eight Granules.
Consider having your home professionally sealed (note~ this is different than hermetically sealed). Many pest control companies offer this service where they seal all possible scorpion entry points. It's not cheap, but it does work.
Last but not least...because this can be fun. Get a black light and an Arizona Fly Swatter and scour your home and yard after dark. Scorpions glow yellow-green under a black light. Whack-A-Scorp. Yes, good times.
I'm happy to say I've never been stung by a scorpion. I've heard the sting is pretty miserable but they are not usually life threatening unless you are allergic, have a compromised immune system, or are under 10 years old or elderly. Take comfort that Arizona does have antivenin and no one has died from a scorpion sting in over 40 years. So if you get stung get emergency treatment to make sure you're ok. You probably are.
Final note. I had a client who bought a home in the foothills of Ahwatukee..backing to the preserve. He got stung on the butt sitting on the toilet. Apparently the scorpion was hiding under the seat. So ladies, maybe it's best if he does leave the toilet seat up.