Going on a holiday and thinking what to pack is always daunting, what will the weather be like, how many tops do I need, how much shampoo should I take and don’t forget the sunscreen! There are many write ups suggesting what to take where, and generally it’s everything you already know, but what about the unusual things you would never have expected. I was surprised to find myself on one trip wishing I had a UV (ultraviolet) light.
In South Africa outside the cities and larger towns there are loads of scorpions, a UV light is very handy for those who are afraid or fascinated by them. When you shine a UV torch at a scorpion it glows the most incredible turquoise colours, it’s completely surreal. Helping you to spot them with ease when you feel the need to check your room or if you are walking at night. At one point I joined some children counting all the scorpions we could find and seeing how many species they could spot, it was surprising how you find them everywhere. On trees, on the ground and waiting on rocks, I had never experienced this before.
I have been to a few zoos and reptile parks where scorpions are in tanks where you can switch the light on and off from night to UV light, therefore this phenomenon was not new to me, but somehow witnessing it outside, was much different. The light has no impact on the scorpion and can be used without the fear of harm to the animal.
The phenomena is said to be a nitrogenous substance found in the scorpions exoskeleton, though it’s also said it can’t be the exoskeleton alone because after the scorpion moults in very early stages there is no fluorescence only when the exoskeleton starts to harden does it starts to glow. The moulted exoskeletons still glow once they have been moulted and scorpions that have been fossilized still glow today after thousand and millions of years, that is an even more exciting site to behold I am sure than a live scorpion.
This fluorescence is very poorly understood and there are many speculations as to why this happens, some theories are that it is for communication, confuse or attract prey, deter predators, protection from sunlight or let it know when the sun is weak or has set. There are many theories but none of them have any evidence backing them, this is still a big mystery many are eager to crack.
UV lights are very fun in general, being able to plan treasure hunts or send secret messages to a friend. You would do this by using a special pen and once you shine the UV torch your able to read what’s been written, otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
This is the sort of torch that is practical for scorpion spotting, this is an affiliate link so if you decide to buy from this page you’ll also be supporting this blog, that being said make sure you find the one that suits you.