Do You See Any Scorpions?

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The scorpion over our bed must have come from somewhere out in the yard.  We’ll never know.

It was quite a day.  We went to the Université Populaire to sign up for French classes.  I went to the first rehearsal of the chorale I’ll be singing with, which was just like a chorale rehearsal at home, only all in French.  Wow, how come I never learned how to say sharp, flat, or eighth note rest before this?  For that matter, how come I never learned to say scorpion or stinger either?

Almost as soon as we started working on a Palestrina piece, the 16th century melody weaving shakily through the room on its first rehearsal, the mother of all thunder storms let loose.  For an hour and a half the thunder gave the Palestrina a good run for its money, and the lightning bolts were nearly non-stop.  Non-stop has a particular meaning in French, which is that the place in question doesn’t close for lunch but stays open all through the day.  But in this case, past dinner time, I just mean that it was continuous in a way I’ve never seen before.  The biggest thunder storm of my life so far.

It was the only thunder storm in Beppo’s life so far, and he was not amused.  When we finally found him he had gotten under the bed and wrapped himself in the bit of blanket that trailed on the floor.  He looked absolutely desperate, and was probably wondering “how come I never learned to say Get Me Out Of Here?”  Smart kitty that he is, he knew that in times of trouble and stress bed is the best place to be.

Since I’d walked home from chorale in the post-innundation drizzle, I sat around for a while with a glass of wine, drying out and cooling off before bed.  It was late when we climbed in, and before turning out the lights Shel asked “what’s that on the ceiling?”  Of course I never wear glasses in bed and the ceiling over the bed is about 10 feet high, so I suggested that the dark blur was a knot on the hand-chiseled beam.  Shel casually remarked “well, then it’s a knot that looks just like a scorpion.”  How come I never learned to say lickety-split?  You cannot imagine how fast we were out of that bed.

There ensued a comedy of terrors, as I grabbed Beppo and Shel grabbed a flashlight.  It still looked like a scorpion to him.  We grabbed the binoculars, and then, holy crap, it definitely looked like a scorpion to me too.  A scorpion on the ceiling over one’s pillow is, well, words fail me in both English and French.  I’m sure you can fill in a few choice ones of your own here.  So Shel bravely fetched a broom and I bravely kept Beppo out of harm’s way by huddling with him as far from the bed as I could decently get without looking like a total deserter-monkey.

The scorpion was knocked down and dispatched in some grisly way that I really didn’t want to know too much about, and I’m sure you don’t either.  And then the fun really started.  That flashlight poked into every conceivable corner, in case a veritable army of scorpions had invaded our home.  If it hadn’t already been midnight and hadn’t taken so long to get reunited with our luggage I might have started re-packing.  Except, what if there were scorpions in the suitcases?  In our shoes?  In our underwear?  How come I never learned to say “call the exterminator?”

But finally, Google to the rescue, we learned that in fact a) there are scorpions in the south of France, and in fact b) lots of scorpions, and weirdly c) they’re considered “inoffensive.”  Inoffensive my ass.  I feel entirely offended by even the idea of scorpions, let alone the reality.  But apparently the reality is that they only sting if you manage to touch one, and it’s the scorpion’s job to make sure you never really do that.  And if the scorpion fails to avoid you and for some reason feels compelled to sting you, then you will probably suffer no more than you would from a wasp sting.  Which is to say that it will hurt but not forever.  Of course, they’re only talking about the physical part.  How come I never learned to say “I’m traumatized for life?”

So at last we convinced ourselves back into bed, after shaking out the pillows and covers.  In all honesty, it was Shel that did the shaking of the bedding, because I was occupied with my job of keeping Beppo safe, while shaking in my shoes.  Beppo slept right between us and under the covers all night, something he’s never done before, proving that he too could use a better vocabulary for trauma.  Of course, he pretended that he was protecting us from scorpions, and we tried to believe he was.

And by the way, if you’ve been squinting at the photo, searching every nook and cranny for scorpions, then you’re having the same experience we are.

You can read more about scorpions and lavender by clicking here., and there’s a truly scary scorpion picture here.  And for the latest update, look here.

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11 Comments on “Do You See Any Scorpions?”

  1. Lori in PA Says:

    Oh, dear! I was thinking that perhaps if a scorpion fell on a human from the ceiling, said scorpion might feel threatened enough to become offensive!

  2. Jim Says:

    Gee, southern France is even more like the part of Texas I grew up in than I would have imagined. I bet if you turned that jug in the picture upside down you’d get to see a whole family of scorpions!

    I’m loving your reports, Abra. So glad to hear that, scorpions aside, you’re getting settled in.

    Jim & Joanna

  3. Annie Says:

    Do they have a special can of Raid there for that? Something like “Raid…..Supreme Scorpion Formula” ? Now just watch Beppo bring Scorpions in the house…………..

  4. Eden Says:

    I would have been right there in the deserter-monkey corner with you & Beppo! Cheers to Shel for being brave enough to face it down for you.
    Have a little more of that sweet wine & stinky cheese and everything will be all better…

  5. Shaya Says:

    Oh my goodness, Abra; you only wanted some culture, good food and to practice your French for a year. If you’d wanted scorpions you probably wouldn’t have chosen France as your destination for the year! You and Shel are very brave. Just being in the house with a scorpion is commendable in my books. As you can imagine, the kids LOVED this story!

  6. Eric Says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the Buthus occitanus scorpions… Or the other 25 species that are home in Europe. It’s the Ursini’s viper that I’d keep my eyes peeled for. They are nasty and have a _really_ bad temper. They are found in South Eastern France.

    Just remember to shake out your shoes before you put them on!

  7. Sue G Says:

    Lavender is the answer to scorpions!!! This is what I’ve heard and read about. Put a bunch of lavendar in a rectangular dish or pot and place it as near to the windowsill as you can. Scorpions despise lavender!

  8. markemorse Says:

    Just in case the lavender doesn’t work, I learned to shuffle my feet when I walked around the house at night when staying with my parents in Phoenix. And to not grope around blindly for light switches in dark rooms….

  9. Abra Says:

    Much as I love lavender, I actually can’t see how it would work here. Because, after all, lavender grows all over the place, including in the garden here, and scorpions abound nonetheless. Although we haven’t seen another one and I’m hoping we won’t!


  10. […] since I wrote this about finding scorpions in the house here in the south of France, scorpions have been the star […]


  11. My family is moving to France when Covid allows and we are in Arizona and really anxious to flee the scorpions here!
    It is important to seal all cracks they can get in even the largest can skinny through a credit card thickness crack. I think I have ptsd from the 29 I found of the very poisonous ones here in my small apartment. Just FYI seal seal seal. Bug spray won’t kill them as they don’t clean themselves. Hair spray will immobilize them. They can hold their breath for many hours in water. I spent many hours researching them. I’m allergic and have hypertension and as the venom drastically raises blood pressure I almost died when stung.

    Are scorpions to be found in the Pyrenees-Aquatine area? Are they a problem? Did your extermination resolve the problem? Are the big black ones the only kind? Any information will be very much appreciated.

    Another note: I don’t know the habits of your French scorpion but the ones here showed up one at a time but I read they congregrate in the winter. Watch shoes, under the toilet seat, and on the walls and woodwork. They usually hate carpet and avoid walking on it. Cats are usually immunre and some hunt them. My cats ran.

    They hang out in pots and pans here and the one that got me just went up my pants leg while cooking and stung me many times. I didn’t find him until I moved he’d crawled into a pan and died. Maybe I poisoned him.

    They are gorgeous creatures and are very helpful if they just would stay out of my house.

    I hope your exterminator was able to eliminate your problem. At least those aren’t deadly but I don’t want to move to where scorpions are in houses again.

    Good luck!


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