View Full Version : Death By Scorpion

02-24-2016, 05:44 PM
The victim is lying asleep in bed. The murderer creeps in with a scorpion in a jam jar. The scorpion is agitated from being bumped around. The murderer unscrews the lid of the jam jar and drops the scorpion onto the victim's face. The scorpion stings him and he dies. The murderer flees the scene.

How plausible a scenario is this?

Any help greatly appreciated.

02-24-2016, 06:01 PM
I don't think it's likely. I think the death by scorpion has been overdramatized by the public. A large majority of people don't die. It's usually the sick or elderly that would die, as with most other deadly afflictions. It's very painful from what I hear, don't get me wrong, but it is survivable, and without even needing antivenom. And the symptoms occur over many hours. Your character wouldn't die that quickly. You're better off with a snake.

King Neptune
02-24-2016, 06:13 PM
I agree with Chompers. There are few scorpions that are even near that poisonous, and even they would not kill quickly or without the victim noticing. The stings hurt a lot, so the person would wake up, and spend hours in pain, then the victim would either die or recover.

02-24-2016, 06:38 PM
Oh well, just a thought. Thanks for that.

Any small deadly snakes? Preferably South American?

King Neptune
02-24-2016, 07:39 PM
Oh well, just a thought. Thanks for that.

Any small deadly snakes? Preferably South American?

Sure there are, but the same problems exist.

02-24-2016, 08:19 PM
import a snake from australia...or snake island. Or have concentrated venom bought on the black market from a highly venomous snake, which is dripped on the sleeping man's lips. Or make him eat pufferfish... Or use a plethora of the different venoms that exist which kill man in mere seconds/minutes.

02-24-2016, 09:10 PM
Oh well, just a thought. Thanks for that.

Any small deadly snakes? Preferably South American?

Sure there are, but the same problems exist.

Not a snake, but there's the poison dart frog (http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians/poison-frog/). Your assassin would have no need to bring the frog to the scene but could poison a knife, etc.

02-24-2016, 09:54 PM
Okay, so I don't know how good the medical examiner is.

First issue is going to be whether scorpions are expected in the area. If they are not naturally occurring, a good ME is going to start wondering why the scorpion is there.

Assuming that scorpions are natural to the area, then what you need to insert is a toxic dose. Very few animals have a dose of poison that is toxic to adult humans. The result is that you have to supplement the dose to gain sufficient toxicity to be fatal.

Ever here of an Epi-Pen? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinephrine_autoinjector. An Epi-Pen leaves a small puncture the size of a medical needle. By concentrating a dose of scorpion venom, an Epi-Pen can easily deliver a fatal dosage. Although the sleeping individual would wake upon the Epi-Pen entering, that would provide a good opportunity for the scorpion to bite as well.

There's two problems on the autopsy that a good medical examiner could pick up on. The first is the puncture from the Epi-Pen. However, poison tends to cause skin necrosis, which could cause the puncture wound disappearing. Second is the dosage would be inconsistent with a normal scorpion bite. This could be dealt with by using multiple scorpions. That presents an alternative question.

Understand that even with the higher dose of venom, death would not be immediate. Your murderer would have to get the shot in and disappear quickly.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

02-24-2016, 10:02 PM
here's a list of venoumous spiders in South america!


I'm thinking your guy needs a brazilian wandering spider as his associate! (they are violent, and like to climb into clothes at night, perfect culprit) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_wandering_spider

02-24-2016, 10:33 PM
Having already established that death by scorpion is unlikely...

I have been stung by a scorpion twice. The first time was 25-30 years ago, in my house, in the dark, on the outside of my pinky toe. The pain started almost immediately. Since it was the middle of the night, I called the 24 hour hotline at poison control. They informed me of symptoms to watch for (difficulty swallowing, drooling, blurred vision, and some others I can't remember), if any such symptoms occurred I was to call them back right away. Within an hour the pain had traveled up my leg, across the pelvis, and down the other leg. I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I wasn't afraid I would die, but was wishing I would. It took close to 48 hours for the pain to be gone. The second time was 6-8 months ago. Same deal, in my house, in the dark, middle of the night. Got me on the bottom of the arch of the foot (same foot). Much less pain, but still unpleasant. Smaller dose of venom? Some tolerance from being stung before? Don't know. But I no longer walk around in the dark barefoot. Any time we spot a scorpion (they are everywhere here in central AZ), it gets whacked, scooped up, and flushed. Usually the cat sees them before we do, and receives much praise for being such a good girl.

My vet at the time of my first sting told me that cats are pretty much impervious to scorpion venom. I don't know if that is true, but that's what he told me.


02-25-2016, 07:11 PM
Virtually all scorpions sting as a last resort. Sleeping people aren't food or a threat and don't get stung. In the US, only the bark scorpion in the Southwest is even close to deadly, so your killer needs to import a restricted species. Indian Red scorpions are very deadly, but only sting a human about once a decade. Not all those stings are fatal. Murder by scorpion is entirely fictional.

To make it happen, have your victim wake up, panic and start trying to swat the scorpion. Grabbing it and crushing will get you stung as a last ditch survival effort.

Here in Florida, scorpions are not uncommon. You get stung by stepping on one in the night on a barefoot bathroom visit. Not even as bad as a wasp or bee sting. I just scoop them up in a paper towel and toss them back in the woods. We have deadly spiders, snakes and sharks, not scorpions.

The real key is what you actually need for your story. Obviously you need someone murdered. A knife, gun or hammer works fine and is quicker, easier and more common. Why did your thoughts turn to scorpion?


02-25-2016, 10:58 PM
As for snakes, we already have the classic Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", by Conan Doyle.

As for scorpions, I can't imagine anyone trying to this. Or with snakes, for that matter, unless the victim was in a place where medical attention could not be got. It would be a hell of a lot more practical just to inject a very fast-acting poison, one that paralyzes almost instantly, and causes death shortly after. Such agents do exist, and have been used in real murders.