Posted by: Ross Gardner | November 5, 2014

Now there are many reasons to visit Kent…….

I am someone, I am happy to admit, who loves a list and have kept records of all my wildlife jaunts over the years.  The heading ‘Sheerness High Street’, I would have to say, is one of the more unusual to have found its way among them.  But last week that is indeed where I found myself, in search of ………… SCORPIONS!

Yes, Sheerness is home to a thriving colony of Euscorpius flavicaudis, the Yellow-tailed Scorpion.  About 150 years ago they found their way to the Sheerness Docks, it is believed, on shipments of masonry from Italy; their natural range is around the Mediterranean regions of Europe and Africa.  There is now thought to be some 12,000, perhaps more, living among the cracks and crevices of the dockyards walls, including a length of the perimeter on the public side.  Living rather further north than their native and somewhat warmer climes, what do they do when the winter cold comes?  Well, scorpions being scorpions, they just adapt.  If it came to it, they might only have to eat once every couple of months and get all the water they need from the food they eat, so they simply retreat deep inside the wall and wait for things to warm up.

Having scoured the surface in search of the scorpions and probably looking at wall more closely than I ever have done before, I don’t think I’ll ever look at one in quite the same again.  It revealed, aside from the presence of this fantastic and pretty harmless little scorpion, a community of spiders, woodlice (a principle food source for the scorpions and no doubt many of the spiders), springtails and even a few earwigs and ants crawling up the wall from their nests below the pavement.  A whole ecosystem evidently thriving among what could reasonably be described, with maybe a hint of understatement, as a sparse environment.

Wherever there’s a will, there’s a way.

Yellow-tailed Scorpion (Euscorpius flavicausdis)  Copyright 2014 Ross Gardner.

Yellow-tailed Scorpion (Euscorpius flavicausdis) Copyright 2014 Ross Gardner.

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Responses

  1. Excellent. I must go and see these

  2. You should do. They really are rather good.


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