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Tuesday December 18, 2012

Beware scorpion stowaways on the plane

I’ve always considered packing a suitcase a rather perfunctory exercise but not anymore. Oh no. Not after my recent encounter with a sly little black scorpion that had rather presumptuously taken refuge in a small suitcase that I’d pulled down from the attic. Absentmindedly I flipped back the lid and did a lively and impromptu war dance when I saw the little fiend rearing up at me. What did I do? You may well ask.

After clamping the suitcase shut I plucked up the courage to carry my quarry downstairs and out into the garden whereupon I opened the lid and let the creature loose in the orchard. It took some effort to persuade it to leave the confines of the case but eventually with a rather huffy scuttling motion it slipped off into the long grasses. It did cross my mind that I might have inadvertently taken the little arachnid on the plane with me and all the way to London in what would have been hand luggage.

Indeed it got me thinking about a recent incident on an Iberia Airbus 340 when a Swiss passenger travelling from Costa Rica to Madrid was bitten on the arm by a stowaway scorpion on the plane. In fact this isn’t the first time Iberia has attracted one of the little horrors on the route. Back in 2007 a man was bitten on the shoulder and finger by a non-paying scorpion passenger and luckily didn’t suffer too many ill effects on arrival in Madrid. I have travelled this same route with Iberia and am relieved to report that no such incident occurred on my flight.

Scorpions seem to like our old finca. On one occasion while reaching for letters in our postbox by the gate I discovered a scorpion attached to a postcard from – rather appropriately – the veteran explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell which had been sent from the Bolivian rain forest. And then there was the time a scorpion with a warped sense of humour lay in wait in a saucepan and grinned up at me as I placed it in the sink.

Some years ago when four small scorpions were found hiding in crevices in a stone wall a mischievous Majorcan neighbour told me to place raw garlic and rosemary stalks in the holes. He was teasing me as usual and later confessed to his crime over a glass of vino tinto but to our mutual amazement it genuinely seemed to do the trick. Now I’m not so sure unless a rogue specimen was savvy enough back then to have migrated to the attic instead.

At least this time a potential aviation drama has been averted but I’m taking no chances. In future I’m stuffing my cases with rosemary and garlic. I’ll draw the line at crucifixes unless of course I encounter a vampire scorpion on the loose.

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  1. Trés drôle! I am enjoying your musings whilst I should be cleaning up before moving house. If I remember correctly in the film ‘A Good Year’, lavender was used to keep such critters at bay. If, however, you would like a crash course in determinedly picking and flicking scorpions afuera de la casa sin temor, I am engaged to a Gerald Durrell incarnate, who besides being a fantastic photographer based here within spitting distance of Morocco in southern Andalucía (a place that only works in summer) is also a determined hunter and examiner of all things venomous, scuttery and slithery.
    Un saludo

    * by Fiona | Mar 22, 01:37 pm