Exclusive: Catching Scorpions in the Arizona Desert On ‘Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe’

On the next Dirty Jobs, producers take host Mike Rowe from one end of the USA to the other. He repairs escalators, but his dirty job assignment of wrangling scorpions with a pest control team is even hairier.

This service is a real need, and people thinking of retiring to Arizona need to understand there are lethal bugs, arachnids, and snakes.

The business of scorpion sweeping is a growing trade and one that keeps the crawlies in check as the communities are built further into the desert, and the habitats for all wildlife are encroached upon.

And Mike Rowe is suited up with roots, a special suit, and gloves, and he is usually tasked with using pinchers to grab scorpions in the dark. They are invisible to the eye, but they glow with an eerie blue-green color with a special light.

Dirty Jobs tackles the bug life of Arizona

Rowe’s first scorpion. Pic credit: Discovery

As the night is falling in the Arizona desert, our intrepid host Mike Rowe is preparing to sweep the darkened landscape for scorpions. Or as Rowe called it: “A prehistoric arachnid with a big old stinger.”

In his special suit, Rowe explains: “Scorpions are pests like spiders and mites except unlike spiders and mites when they sting you it hurts. They’re also creepy, and people want them gone.  There’s a lot to worry about as you stumble through the desert after dark.”

Indeed, you never want to take a stroll in the open desert for fear of being bit by tarantulas, black widows, neurotoxic venomous scorpions, or be stung by cacti needles and rattlesnakes. So wear the highest thickest boots you can find and bring a good flashlight if you have to.

Rowe’s guide says: “Just make sure you’re watching your step. There’s lots of cactus out here the rocks and stuff are easy to trip on [he points to a large cactus] that’s one you don’t want to run into.”

Rowe is a good listener and asks: “It just seems well in the dark [it’s] just a harmless little bush?”

He also says everything looks brown in daylight, making it impossible to see the dangers ahead. However, their special light illuminates the bug life of the desert, alarmingly so.

His guide says: “Pretty much yeah, everything in Arizona has got that nice brown color. [He spots a scorpion] There’s our first one right there!”

In tow, Rowe says: “Look at that little guy.”

Not so fast as the guide informs Rowe that is a bark scorpion, and says: “One of the three we’ll find out here, it’s the smallest one, but it’s also the most venomous.”

Rowe says: “Isn’t that funny the way so many things that are small like that are the worst.”

The guide pinches the scorpion’s tail, and it renders the arachnid limp by depressing a specific nerve. This way, he cannot sting or use the pinchers to attack.

Now Rowe wants to know what would happen if one were stung. His guide essentially gives him the best case to the worst-case scenario.

He says: “It kind of depends on the person a little bit…anywhere from like a bee sting to like an electric shock. You can have various symptoms, from just numb, tingly feelings wherever he stings to increase blood pressure, vomiting, fevers, and things like that. If you’re really unlucky, you could be looking at a lethal sting.”

Rowe deadpans: “It goes without saying that I’m doing my best to avoid getting stung.”

Dirty Jobs airs Sunday at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery and streaming on discovery+.

April Neale

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