Why do some things glow under a UV/black light?

What do scorpions and teeth have in common? They both glow under a UV/black light! If you think about it, we see these types of lights quite often, in amusement parks, Halloween, bowling alleys, and even pest control. The real question is why do some things glow under UV/black lights, while others don’t?


A black light is actually a type of UV light, there are many types of UV or Ultraviolet lights, but the one in a black light is specifically UV-A. Ultraviolet light is a type of light with a less than normal wavelength, meaning it is out of the the visibility spectrum. UV lights are the the same type of light that emits from the sun. When these UV lights hit and reflect off of certain things, interesting reactions will happen. For example, when UV rays from the sun hit your skin you could get sunburned. In the case of a black light, when the UV light hits the chemical element phosphorus, it reacts by glowing. “Coincidentally”, phosphorus is common in plasma screen televisions, certain fabrics, teeth, fingernails, and scorpions! So if you’re ever at a bowling alley and your shirt, teeth, and fingernails start to glow, the answer is phosphorus!

Friday Links To Pest Control News

Black Light ScorpionFriday Links To Pest Control News

Black Lighting Scorpions For Scorpion Control

Are you the adventurous type, always looking for something to do at night? Try something new… Try black-lighting scorpions. It’s a fun nighttime activity that can also help keep your home and property free from stinging scorpions. More…

Avoiding Mosquito Problems in the Summer Months

For some tips on how to keep mosquitoes from breeding, and how to keep these blood-sucking pests from biting you, click here.

Austin Bats In Danger?

Every year some 100,000 plus people visit Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge to witness one of nature’s marvels. During summer evenings, upwards of 1.5 million bats emerge from the crevices of the bridge. It’s a magnificent sight; a sight that many are worried may be no more now that White-Nose Syndrome has hit the state of Texas. More…

Squirrel Damage

While observing squirrels on your property, be weary. These pests can cause some serious damage. More…

5 Tips To Control Colorado House Spiders

House spiders are some of the biggest and ugliest home invaders out there; and apparently they are a big problem in Colorado. Here are a few tips on keeping House spiders out of your home. More…

Western Honey BeePest Of The Week: The Western Honey Bee

Our pest of the week this week really isn’t much of a pest at all; but is considered quite beneficial to our ecosystem. I’m of course referring to the Western Honey Bee. These bees are sometimes referred to as European Honey Bees, because they were introduced from Europe. Most of us just call them honey bees because they create sweet honey—a multi-billion dollar industry here in the United States. Honey bees make their honey when they regurgitate nectar, adding an enzyme. In addition to making honey, Western Honey bees also pollinate flowering plants.

Generally speaking, Western Honey bees measure ½ inch to ¾ inch in length. They have banded abdomens, covered in a very fine hair, and are a combination of yellow and black. A single colony of Western Honey bees can reach numbers of 100,000 members; gathering in a hive. Each hive consists of a caste system with the queen, drones, and workers. The queen lays the eggs, the drones mate with the queen, and the worker bees feed the colony. It’s these worker bees that most of us encounter as they’re gathering pollen. These encounters can sometimes result in painful stings, leading some people to believe the Western Honey bee to be a pest.

How To Go Scorpion Hunting

Southwestern desert cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are home to the infamous Bark Scorpion. For the more adventurous types, now is the perfect time to scrounge up the trusty black light and go scorpion hunting. Even though bark scorpions are some of the most poisonous scorpions in the country, it’s a great opportunity to see them up close and expose others to they way they behave. We’ve obviously seen our fair share of scorpions, so here is everything you need to know about how to go scorpion hunting.

(Obligatory disclaimer: We do not condone handling scorpions, as they can cause serious harm or even worse. If you should be stung by a scorpion at any time, we suggest seeking professional medical attention.)

Optimal Conditions.

There are two things you need to know about scorpion hunting season. One, they hibernate during the winter and will not be active until the nighttime low temps stay above about 70 degrees. Once we start hitting that mark on a nightly basis, they begin to wake up and start to look for something to eat. If it’s still a bit chilly at night, don’t bother gearing up for any hunts. Wait until its nice and warm.

Scorpions are also nocturnal and are most active after the sun sets. If you see a scorpion out and about during the day, its usually because they got caught out that morning as the sun was rising and found a place to hunker down in the meantime.

Scorpions glow fluorescent under UV black light.
Scorpions glow fluorescent under UV black light.


The most important piece of gear you need is a black light. It wouldn’t be scorpion hunting without it. You don’t necessarily need something big and fancy. Your local sporting good store will sell simple black light flashlights in the $10-12 range. Those models will come with 9 or 10 LED light bulbs, which is more than sufficient to spot scorpions. A flashlight with about 30 LED bulbs will run you about $20-25 and the mega lights with 100 LED bulbs will be a solid $50. If you really want to go pro, with a quick Google search

The florescent  glow of the scorpions is believed to be caused by the reflective reaction to protein found beneath their exoskeletons. They glow rather brightly with only a little light, so don’t feel the need to drop $50 on a new black light. I’ve even seen nearby pharmacy stores like CVS and Walgreens sell them near the checkout counter.

The next most important piece, or pieces, of you gear you need are closed toe/heel shoes. We wouldn’t recommend hunting in a pair of flip flops, so be sure to wear your sneakers. The last thing you want is to be stung yourself. Remember, it’s called “scorpion hunting”, not “scorpion hunted”.

If you intend to catch a scorpion or two there are a few methods you can try. First, the way I’ve always personally done it is with a glass mason jar and a 4″x6″ card of some sort – a note card, recipe card, old photo, etc. You use the card to help you corral the little critter into the mason jar. Another known method is to wrap the end of a stick with masking tape, sticky side out. You can use the stick end to actually capture the scorpions on to the stick. If you intend on transferring it to a jar then just be care in the process so you don’t mangle it as you try to detach it from the tape.

Where To Look.

In metro areas like Phoenix, many of the homes are separated on the property by cinder-block walls. In the office we lovingly refer to those as “scorpion hotels”. After sundown, you are certain to find a few wanderers out for a late night stroll. If they are on the ground, it is most likely they will be in close proximity to the wall. They don’t tend to stray too far from home. Likewise, the same can be said for the exterior walls of the house. It’s common to find them on the lower areas of the house walls, or nearby on the ground. You never really know where they could all be, which is why we would suggest wearing sneakers, but don’t waste too much time looking in the lawn or patio area.

…Now What?

So, you caught some scorpions. Good on you! But now what do you do? They’re not exactly the pet you grew up hoping you could have someday. To be vaguely honest, I may or may not have disposed of the critters at the end of a hunt. But I also work for a pest control company, so I’ve also saved a fair share of them as well. In fact, for as long as I’ve worked here we’ve always kept an aquarium of scorpions in the office. At one point we had 27 scorpions in one container. They don’t need much to survive, a little bit of water and a few crickets every now and then and they’ll be fine. However, we certainly understand if you go with the aforementioned method. Either one, it’s up to you.

Happy Hunting!