My family just got back from a wonderful vacation in Provence and Paris. I will post of review as soon as I get a chance. However, I just wanted to make a quick post about something I never even thought about or even considered....scorpions in our villa! Apparently it is very common in Provence. Now I understand why they gave us the Poison control number! Anyway, oddly enough I found this in the NY Times when we returned and just thought that I would post it as an FYI for all of you first-timers to Provence(so you don't get as freaked out as I was the first time I encounted a scorpion in the house!)
Q. We once saw a scorpion inside a house in Provence. We are concerned about the danger of scorpions when we visit there again, with our baby this time. -- Martha Nangle, Yarmouth, Me.
A. In Provence three types of scorpions can be found, according to Max Goyffon, a specialist on scorpions and the head of the laboratory at the Paris Museum of Natural History. There is little reason to fear for your child's safety, though: the Marseilles Antipoison Center says that since it opened in 1967, it has never registered a death or even a "serious" case following a scorpion's sting. The center gets an average of 50 calls in July and in August, and many fewer in other months (scorpions hibernate in winter). A scorpion sting in Provence is less dangerous than some bee stings, the center says. The worst risk is getting an infection not from the sting itself, but from the tiny wound it leaves, as with any cut or scrape, the center says.
The most common scorpion in the region, the Euscorpius flavicaudis, is black with yellow stinger and legs. This scorpion is harmless, according to Dr. Goyffon. These black scorpions may be found in basements or bathrooms as they like damp settings. They sometimes take refuge inside buildings after a heavy rain. A second, smaller type, Euscorpius carpathicus, black with dark red legs, is found in higher elevations, generally above 1,000 feet. It, too, is harmless, Dr. Goyffon says. The third type, the Buthus occitanus, is yellow or brown and found in the countryside of Provence and Languedoc. This scorpion is rarely encountered by anyone other than a person knowledgeable about the insect world who is searching for one, Dr. Goyffon said. While the sting of Buthus occitanus has been known to kill children in North Africa, the scorpion is harmless in France, according to Dr. Goyffon, probably for reasons related to the cooler climate in France.
If one is stung by a scorpion, the Marseilles Anitpoison Center recommends applying an anti-infection agent (hydrogen peroxide, for example) and ice to the sting. If a small child is bitten, it would be best to take the child to a doctor.
Our family has rented the same home in Provence for 15 years, and our children have been there since infancy. While we see numerous small scorpions in the house every June (and we've killed more than a few), I've never been concerned about them. I think it's the concept of scorpions that is more troubling than their actual presence.
Fancy's right. Scorpions are the 'other' 8-legged critter that bothers many of us so much. We have scorpions here in the SE US, and have found them in beach rentals in Florida (well, same territory!) I'd HATE to run into another one, but they're relatively shy and I think somewhat noctournal. So put on your shoes when you get up in the dark hours of the night!
(oh, p.s., shake your shoes out. I once had a scorpion fall out of a pair of shorts I was about to put on. Whee!!
Posts: 391 | Location: Arkansas | Registered: 06 August 2004