CAIRO – Egypt scrambled emergency teams Friday to eradicate 20 swarms of scorpions from homes and public buildings after Egyptian police found about 1,600 live scorpions abandoned on a road.
Egypt’s public health ministry said 2,000 scorpions had been destroyed at a shopping center in the town of Wadi el-Zaytoun. A further 5,000 will be destroyed before the weekend, said a ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Scorpions, the smallest and one of the oldest living creatures on Earth, get their name from their exoskeletons, which are hooked end to end. They have two strands of symbiotic worm-like legs, with the funnel-shaped abdomen and sinewy limbs. They are attracted to chaff in a warm environment.
The scorpions in Egypt were moved from a field in Wadi el-Zaytoun to a temporary location after a public health official arrived at the shopping center and found them hidden under cars and luggage on a bus.
“The scorpions had infiltrated the cars and the passengers’ rooms,” state news agency MENA reported.
Health officials used cats to move the scorpions to an alternative safe spot, MENA said. Officials were set to destroy more scorpions early Friday after determining that the shelters provided to house them were not appropriate for the deadly creatures.
Egyptian Health Minister Tarek al-Hashem told a local daily that the scorpions were among more than 30,000 retrieved from the fields and roadsides by environmental health crews in the Middle East’s most populous country in the last six months. Most of the scorpions were Mexican but at least one American was found.
In June of last year, a health ministry official said 20 scorpions were discovered at the Nile Delta city of Oran, 360 miles southeast of Cairo. That official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said they were “culturally imported” to Egypt from North Africa.
“These animals are much easier to control because no matter how bad they look they don’t injure us as much as a snake, even a lion,” he said.