While Tennessee isn’t exactly known for its massive numbers of scorpions, there are two species there. If you pick up a rock or mow your lawn, you may come across one.

There are no truly venomous scorpions in Tennessee, though. Their venom is about as bad as a honey bee’s, so most people do not have significant problems after being stung. Of course, some people are allergic and can end up with severe reactions to a sting. Scorpions in Tennessee are most common in rural, forested areas. Pesticides do little to keep them out of cabins due to their thick exoskeleton. They typically enter homes looking for water, ending up in the bathroom and other areas.

While scorpions can be a bit unsettling, they can be important for the environment. They control the insect population and mostly stay out of humans’ way. To learn more about the two different scorpions that live in Tennessee, keep reading.

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The 2 Scorpions Found in Tennessee

1. Plain Eastern Stripeless Scorpion

Close up macro image of devil scorpion
Image Credit: Rob Hainer, Shutterstock
Species:Vaejovis carolinianus
Longevity:7–8 years
Good to own as a pet?:No
Legal to own?:No
Adult Size:1–2 inches

Stripeless scorpions are a shy and docile species. They are nocturnal and typically only come out at night, when they hunt for small insects and other arachnids. This species is not active in temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Being warm-blooded, they also become sluggish in cold temperatures. Many people refrigerate them in order to take pictures or use them for scientific purposes.

Like that of many scorpions, their eyesight isn’t great. They hunt mostly based on vibrations, attacking anything they see as a threat or potential prey animal. They come in a reddish to dusty brown color.  As their name suggests, they do not have a stripe like their cousin.

The stripeless scorpion needs quite a bit of water to thrive. They prefer moist forest environments, usually hiding under rocks, leaves, and dead trees. Pine forests are one of their favorite places, but they can be found practically anywhere.

They mate like most other scorpions in that they give birth to live young, which ride around on their mother’s backs until they go through their first molt. In the wild, these scorpions can live for 7 to 8 years. These scorpions are not usually found in houses due to their love of moist environments.

2. The Striped Bark Scorpion

striped bark scorpion
Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock
Species:Centruroides vittatus
Longevity:3–8 years
Good to own as a pet?:No
Legal to own?:Yes
Adult Size:2 ¾ inches

The striped scorpion isn’t native to Tennessee. But they were accidentally introduced and are now found commonly throughout the wild. They are among the most common scorpions in the United States and northern Mexico.

This species rarely grows larger than 2 ¾ inches. As their name suggests, they have two dark stripes, while the rest of their body is a pale tan-yellow. They also have a dark triangle above their ocular tubercle. There is variation in the exact coloration, especially across geographical locations.

They are most common in the Rutherford and Selby counties of Tennessee. There is a likelihood that human activities have introduced them to these specific areas; they may not exist throughout the whole of Tennessee.

This species spends most of their time on the ground, hiding underneath rocks and vegetation. They can be found in abandoned sheds and other structures. They are nocturnal, hunting in the nighttime hours. Their diet is varied, ranging from insects to smaller scorpions. Their natural predators include birds, reptiles, and some mammals.

Unlike most scorpions, this is a social species. Their mating process is much more involved than other species, likely because they tend to spend more time together.

Many people are stung annually by these scorpions, usually due to walking barefoot. These scorpions may end up in homes and other structures as well. Their venom is not deadly in most cases, but it can be painful and cause localized swelling.

striped bark scorpion
Image Credit: Hanjo Hellmann, Shutterstock

Are Scorpions Venomous in Tennessee?

All scorpions are at least somewhat venomous. They do all have venom, which they use largely for hunting purposes. However, the venom of both scorpion species is similar to that of a honey bee. It usually doesn’t cause that many problems. Swelling is usually localized. The bite can be painful, just like that of a honey bee or a wasp. But it is usually not serious. Some people are allergic to the scorpion’s venom, however. In these cases, medical intervention may be required.

What Scorpions Are in Knoxville, TN?

Both the striped and stripeless scorpions are found in Knoxville, Tennessee. The striped scorpion is far more likely to be found in your home, though. If you happen to find a scorpion in your home, it is likely of the striped variety. Identifying the type of scorpion should be simple. It’s a matter of whether they have dark stripes on their back.

However, identification isn’t that important. Both types of scorpions in Tennessee have similar stings and behaviors. One isn’t more dangerous than the other.

female Arizona bark scorpion
Image Credit: Ernie Cooper, Shutterstock

How Do I Get Rid of Scorpions in Tennessee?

Normal pesticides don’t work on scorpions due to their thicker exoskeletons. Typically, you must purchase something specifically for scorpions. However, treating the scorpion problem directly isn’t always effective. They will often return in greater numbers after the treatment.

Scorpions follow their food. If you have a high number of insects in your yard, scorpions will show up. Effective pest control is important to prevent their return.

If you live in a heavily wooded area, you likely can’t avoid scorpions. They’re a part of nature, just like everything else. If you live close to the woods, you can also expect to live close to everything in the woods. Therefore, your best bet is to avoid stings. Walk around with shoes, and remember that scorpions usually only attack when they feel threatened. You should be careful when lifting rocks and turning over logs, as scorpions like to hide in these areas.

Avoid excess moisture in your homes. Most scorpions end up in homes while looking for water. Fix leaky pipes and use dehumidifiers. Be careful of leaving wet towels out.

Next on your reading list: 9 Lizard Species Found in Tennessee (With Pictures)scorpion divider2


There are only two species of scorpions found in Tennessee. The stripeless scorpion is the only native species, but the striped scorpion is found readily in a few areas as well. Rutherford and Shelby counties usually have the highest occurrence of striped scorpions.

Both of these species are rather similar. You can usually find them hiding underneath rocks and dead wood. They are nocturnal and prefer to avoid people. They will attack if they feel threatened. But their stings aren’t much worse than a honey bee’s.

There are no truly dangerous scorpions in Tennessee. They tend to be more of a nuisance than anything. Finding a scorpion in your bathroom can still be a bit unsettling, though, even if they are mostly harmless.

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Featured Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock