Tale of a Scorpion

Karthikeyan S


Karthikeyan S

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

A scorpion’s exoskeleton has an outer layer called the cuticle, which contains a thin ‘hyaline layer’ that reacts to UV light. This is why scorpions glow in the dark when struck by moonlight or other UV light sources.

Three decades after I first saw a scorpion carrying a cluster of young on its back, I had a chance to photograph this spectacle recently. Walking in the dark within the Dubare Jungle Lodges campus armed with a camera and a torch, I started looking for the creatures of the night.

After spotting some bicoloured frogs, spiders, and geckos, I saw a scorpion on the trunk of a tree. Upon closer observation, I realised that it had babies on its back. After shooting a few pictures by regular torchlight, I decided to activate its UV light. The result was this picture, shot with my phone’s camera.

A scorpion’s exoskeleton has an outer layer called the cuticle, which contains a thin ‘hyaline layer’ that reacts to UV light. This is why scorpions glow in the dark when struck by moonlight or other UV light sources. Presumably, soft-skinned babies have not yet formed a cuticle and therefore don’t react in the same way. That’s the chemistry of the fluorescence. As for evolutionarily reasons, scientists are still working on that.

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About the author

Karthikeyan S

Karthik is the chief naturalist of Jungle Lodges & Resorts based in Bangalore.



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