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In Walt Disney Pictures-produced comic science-fiction 1989 movie Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, the Shrunken Kids are faced with a scorpion when trying to find their way back home from the jungle of their home garden.

Having never seen a scorpion in the wild, I felt surprised by this encounter.

Is it reasonable to assume that suburb gardens can contain such creatures?

Is the size of the scorpion realistic too (it seems smaller than the Lego block where The Kids were trying to spend the night)?

  • 6
    Do you know the height of the family members for comparison? It seems that they changed height to fit the plot and were exactly as tall as they needed to be. (Wasn't there a scene where they were riding on an ant?) – coteyr Apr 23 '18 at 15:13
  • 3
    @coteyr In the direct-to-video sequel Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, there is a line where they say they are "three quarters of an inch tall" (~1.9 cm), but I would agree, they are usually exactly as tall as the script says they should be. – Thunderforge Apr 23 '18 at 19:09
  • 5
    It depends on where in the US. I grew up in Maryland and never saw a scorpion outside the zoo, but I used to read a blogger who moved to Texas and complained that there were scorpions everywhere, to the point that you need to shake out your shoes before you put them on, even indoors. – MissMonicaE Apr 23 '18 at 19:39
  • 2
    Definitely saw them growing up in the Kern Valley (desert) in California. – Charles Duffy Apr 24 '18 at 19:48
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    Keep in mind, the US is a big place. This is sort of akin to "Are scorpions frequent in European gardens?" That's a lot of places to be asking about. Odds are one of them has scorpions. – Mooing Duck Apr 25 '18 at 1:11
38

The story of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids takes place in Fresno, California. In that area of the state, scorpions are rare, but not totally unheard of. No scorpion native to central California is considered dangerous to humans (this does not take into account shrunken children).

The appearance of the scorpion appears to be that of an Indian Red Scorpion, but that would make it an escapee from an exotic bug collector rather than a native.

42

From orkin.com

Garden Scorpions

While deserts are often the best spots to look for scorpions, these arachnids can sometimes visit gardens in their search for food. In rural and suburban areas, scorpions can often wander into yards and homes. They can be found under rocks, inside burrows and under logs.

Scorpions in the garden can sometimes cause panic upon first sight since these little arachnids have long been considered to be deadly, regardless of their species. In fact, there are few scorpion species that are considered lethal to humans. The effects of most scorpion stings can range from something similar to a bee sting to a really painful sting accompanied by swelling and other symptoms.

There are many other sources also which suggest it's not so uncommon to have scorpion in gardens., like gardeningknowhow.com or another similar link from orkin.

For the size I can't get any valid proof.

  • 18
    Having killed my fair share of scorpions, I can say they come in different sizes. 20 baby scorpions can fit on the back of their mom (don't Google that if you want to get any sleep) ;) Image of baby scorpion on a dime for size comparison: suburbanferndaleark.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/… – kjw Apr 23 '18 at 15:02
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    I'll bet the effects of a scorpion sting is worse if the scorpion is bigger than the victim :) – Barmar Apr 23 '18 at 19:50
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    I wouldn't consider Orkin a reliable source - of course they want you to think the creatures they get paid to eliminate are a threat! – corsiKa Apr 24 '18 at 2:51
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    @Mauser Gah! They're trying to earn business by being honest about the problem they solve? Those are the worst kind! – corsiKa Apr 24 '18 at 14:05
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    @corsiKa They get inside your decision loop by being TRUSTWORTHY – Yakk Apr 24 '18 at 15:26
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I used to live in a city where scorpions were very common in the back yard. The thing is that they were never deadly. Movies and shows portray every scorpion as a deadly assassin, but very few are actually more than annoying to humans.

That said, I imagine if you were shrunk down to the size in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", they would be quite lethal. For us normal size humans the risk is much more like a bee sting.

Of the 80 species in the United States, only one, the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides excilicauda), is considered lethal. (The name is a slight misnomer; the species is also found in the deserts of California and Utah.) But there is an effective antivenin available for the treatment of this scorpion's stings, and there hasn't been a fatality in Arizona in over 40 years.

From a related story

Yes. All species of scorpion are poisonous. If you are an insect, and therefore potential food for the scorpion, then all scorpions are deadly poisonous. However, only a very small number of the over 1050 known species are dangerous to humans. Most produce a bee-sting like reaction in humans. It is very painful, but not life-threatening.

Some More Info

Only one species of scorpion in North America, and about 20 others worldwide, have venom potent enough to be dangerous to human beings. The North American species, Centruroides exilicauda (formerly called C. sculpturatus), is found over much of Arizona and Mexico. It is also known as the bark scorpion. A small population occurs in extreme southeastern California, and a few records exist for southern Utah and small parts of Texas, New Mexico and Nevada.

A last example

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    "(The name [Arizona bark scorpion] is a slight misnomer; the species is also found in the deserts of California and Utah.)" Presumably, they also don't bark. Heck, is it even a scorpion? ;-) – David Richerby Apr 23 '18 at 16:58
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    Bark as in tree bark. – coteyr Apr 23 '18 at 17:23
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    @DavidRicherby Just for you, a scorpion which does bark. i.redditmedia.com/… – Graham Apr 23 '18 at 17:36
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    @Graham I officially hate you with every fiber of my being. – MikeTheLiar Apr 23 '18 at 17:46
  • 3
    Hard to trust the 2nd article too much when they don't know the difference between poisonous and venomous. – Michael Apr 24 '18 at 14:12
3

Where does Honey, I Shrunk the Kinds Happen? My memory of the movie is rather vague. The backyard looked rather lush, but it could have been artificially watered. And I don't remember much about other landscapes seen in the movie.

IMDB has this goof listed:

Scorpions are usually desert creatures and would be a rare sight in an average family's backyard, especially if the immediate environment is a forest.

Actually some scorpions don't live in deserts as explained here.

Today, scorpions are found in virtually every terrestrial habitat, including high-elevation mountains, caves and intertidal zones, with the exception of boreal ecosystems, such as the tundra, high-altitude taiga, and the permanently snow-clad tops of some mountains.[5]:251–252[12] As regards microhabitats, scorpions may be ground-dwelling, tree-living, rock-loving, or sand-loving. Some species, such as Vaejovis janssi, are versatile and found in every type of habitat in Baja California, while others occupy specialized niches such as Euscorpius carpathicus, which is endemic to the littoral zone of rivers in Romania.[13]

The movie was filmed in Mexico, California, and British Columbia. In the sequel, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid the family has moved to Nevada, but I don't where they moved from.

This site lists the various species of scorpion found in various US states. It claims that 30 US states have scorpions.

  • California
  • Arizona
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • South Carolina
  • Louisiana
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota (?)
  • Wyoming

And a lot of these scorpion states don't have any deserts.

  • Just to add to this comment - going to summer camp in the north Georgia mountains, I was surprised to run into what I presume was Vaejovis carolinianus. I too was under the mistaken impression that scorpions were desert animals and thought I was being pranked with a rubber toy when I found one in my suitcase! – chucksmash Apr 24 '18 at 19:55

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