Fat scorpions lurked malevolently as I began to clear the stew of wind-blown twigs and sodden tangles of ivy, rotted petals and grit.
From The Lantern
The first time I saw a scorpion in the house, I was chilled to the bone. A scorpion, surely the most dangerous stinging insect there is! How could this be, in a country so close to
? I’d been brought up on terrible tales of the scorpions in the England Middle East where my parents lived when I was born, of the gardener who put his foot into a shoe without looking and was stung so badly he died of the poison in the scorpion’s tail.
When I told the first person I saw – the electrician – of this terrible discovery, he smiled and shrugged in the way the French do. “C’est normal,’ he said. There were always scorpions in old houses where there were lots of stone walls, he explained, but there was not much harm in them. The sting from these Provençal breeds was not much worse than a wasp’s.
That isn’t as comforting as it might seem, as there are some pretty heavy duty wasps around here in summer: as August wears on, great hornets imbued with the same dark threat as military helicopters appear. But we’ve learned to live with the scorpions, and developed our own way of dealing with them. Nature has her ways too.
One hot night a few summers ago, I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed when I noticed that a battle was raging under the basin between a scorpion and a spider. The scorpion was a reasonable size, about an inch and a half long (about average: the other night we found a fat three-incher, but there are also tiny ones of less than an inch; the one photographed here on an outside wall was about two inches long). The spider was rather smaller, and it seemed only a matter of time before it lost the fight. But on and on went the two adversaries.
I stayed watching for over an hour, unable to leave without knowing the outcome. In the end, the spider triumphed by patiently continuing to spin sticky web while avoiding the scorpion’s nipping pincers. Very good to know, and I am always most respectful of spiders now.