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Scorpions! Strange and Wonderful

The Story Behind the Book

In the "strange and wonderful" series, I definitely aim to include animals that can be dangerous to people. Of course the creatures--bats, sharks, snakes, alligators and crocodiles--are always much less dangerous than many people think. There are nearly two thousand species of scorpions, and only three dozen have venom that can kill a human.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED: In my travels I've had a few encounters with scorpions, in Arizona and Mexico. On a trip to central Mexico with artist Bob Marstall (as we worked on our book about the life of one monarch butterfly), we turned over rocks to find and photograph some scorpions. Bob had a really "close encounter!" His suitcase was open on the floor of the motel where we stayed. One morning he picked up some underwear from that suitcase. A scorpion fell out! We sometimes wonder what might have happened if he had quickly put the underwear on, with the scorpion still within!

Long ago I wrote Scorpion Man: Exploring the World of Scorpions, about biologist Gary Polis. I was fortunate to meet him, and even interview him, in my house. He asked if my youngest kids, Jesse and Rebecca, would like to have pet scorpions. Yes! One day, a package arrived in the mail, with two scorpions in separate boxes. They were given the names "Stinger" and "Venom," and kept in separate terrariums--because the bigger one would have killed and eaten the smaller. They were fed live crickets (which you can buy at pet stores) and lived in their little deserts for about a year.

After the book about Gary Polis was published we continued to keep in touch. And I was shocked and sad when he died (with others) when a sudden storm sunk a boat in Mexico's Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). What a loss, especially to his family, including two young children. When I was asked to write a dedication for this scorpion book, the choice was easy, and the dedication reads:

In memory of "scorpion man" Gary A. Polis, a great scientist, husband, father, friend.