LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK, Arizona — As the setting sun left a yellow tinge on dirt-colored cactuses as far as the eye could see, park ranger Anna Roberts gave us a lesson on what we were about to hunt.
“Scorpions know they will not kill us because we are much larger,” said Roberts, explaining that the animals’ first instinct would be to escape, not sting, and that fatalities from bites in the U.S. were rare. “So, you don’t have worry about that.”
The light-hearted preparatory chat also came with a serious message: Don’t be dumb with scorpions, which move quickly on eight legs and are equipped with pincer claws and curved tails that lash enemies and deposit venom.
Closed-toed shoes were a must, the critters should only be picked up with tongs, and they should not be played with — a message I made sure my oldest children, boys ages 8 and 9, heard.
Having just moved with my family to Arizona, the excursion struck me as a uniquely desert-life thing to do. However, my wife, who rightly said taking our 3-year-old would have been a bad idea, thought I was nuts.