A scorpion. In a cup. In my kitchen.

June 15, 2007 | 20 comments

My mother-in-law is in town for the weekend. This morning I walked downstairs to see the children dressed smartly, the table set with our nice china, and my mother-in-law serving up a lovely Eggs Florentine dish with the aroma of buttery homemade croissants wafting all through the house.

Kidding, kidding! It’s not that kind of house. My mother-in-law is in town, but the rest of it is just a little fantasy I wanted to indulge in as a sanity-preservation technique. What actually happened is that I walked downstairs to have a cup with a scorpion in it shaken in my face. But before I get into all that, allow me to give you some background:

Pardon the expression, but my mother-in-law is what they call “hell on wheels.” In a good way. She has more energy than both of my children combined, likes her TV loud and her cell phone ringer louder, is always on various one-woman-against-the-system crusades for justice that we’re never quite sure how she got involved in, and does not have a single non-confrontational bone in her body. She grew up desperately poor in east Texas, became a single mother after an unwanted divorce, and has carved out a better life for herself by sheer, tough-as-nails determination alone. She’s also one of those people who you just never know what she’s going to do or say next. If we could only get her her own reality show we’d be rich.

So, given what I know about her and what I know about my house, when I groggily walked downstairs this morning to hear her say in her thick east Texas accent that she and the kids found something outside they wanted to give me, I have no idea why my first thought was that it was flowers.

As I wiped sleep from my eyes and she ran up me, holding the baby under one arm like a sack of potatoes and a little children’s cup in the other hand, I should have done the math that my crazy house + my crazy mother-in-law = only one thing that could possibly be in that cup. And it wasn’t flowers.

Nay, it was a scorpion.

Allow me to list some reasons I found this disturbing:

  • The cup was a very shallow children’s cup, only a few inches deep
  • She was waving it right in front of my 11-month-old, who grabs at everything
  • I had been trying to tell myself that once the scorpions had seen my exterminator-hiring wrath they’d fled in terror, never to be seen on my property again
  • A scorpion in a vigorously shaken cup a few inches from one’s face is not generally what one wants to see in the first few moments upon waking

My mother-in-law chuckled when she saw the look on my face, laughing that I was so silly to be frightened since, after all, it was dead. Had I been able to speak or think clearly I would have pointed out that a) the fact that it’s supposedly dead does not address the issue that it is being held well within reach of the baby. I have my own little quirky rule that the baby is not allowed to grab and stuff into her mouth live OR dead scorpions. And b) THESE THINGS DON’T DIE! I have first-hand knowledge of this! OF COURSE IT’S NOT DEAD!

But I was not able to say any of this, only to point in horror as I backed away. Wanting to prove to me that she was not the sort of irresponsible grandmother who would bring a live scorpion into the house, she began vigorously shaking the cup to confirm its deadness.

Anyone want to guess what happened next?

Oh yeah. It moved. It started twisting around, trying to get out of the cup. My horrified mother-in-law panicked, not sure whether to drop the baby or the cup.

I grabbed the baby and she set the cup up on the counter and covered it with a heavy glass. Obviously my instinct was to dispose of the thing immediately but, as I’ve mentioned, I recently instituted a No Scorpion Handling policy. In the back of my mind I planned to deal with it eventually, but that’s not a pre-coffee endeavor. So I fixed myself a quick breakfast and headed upstairs to shower and get ready for the day.

When I came back downstairs my mother-in-law ran up to me and exclaimed, “JENNIFER! You will NOT believe what happened!” She went on to tell me that she’d dumped the scorpion out on the floor for the kids to look at, and when my two-year-old sprayed some water on it it came alive and started running around, trying to sting everything in sight. Ahem. Had we not just established that it was NOT DEAD?, I asked. She said something about thinking that it must have finally died after sitting in the cup for a good ten minutes (hah!), but it was all moot now since she’d put it down the disposal.

So it would appear that I was way too naive in believing that my scorpion woes were over. Though, to my credit, how could I have imagined that there are people out there who intentionally bring scorpions into houses?

The fact that this all happened before 9:30 AM on the first day of her visit leaves me slightly concerned about what this weekend has in store.

=============== UPDATE ===============

Later that day, the truth came out that the scorpion was indeed quite alive when my mother-in-law caught it outside. Though she did think that the hour it spent sitting in a covered cup in my kitchen would have killed it (hah). A couple of thoughts here:

  • So. What if she and the kids had been outside when I woke up? I would have walked into the kitchen, seen a stray cup on the kitchen counter, and oh-so-naively thought, “Hmm, what’s in here?” as I picked it up to look inside. I’m not even going to think about what my reaction might have been. 
  • Speaking of things I’m not going to think about…so my toddler and crawling baby were involved in corralling an angry scorpion into a shallow cup. And I was worried that they might have too many cookies while their grandmother was here!


I keep expecting to receive a letter from the Texas Department of Tourism begging me to cease and desist with all scorpion-related content. I do feel bad that multiple people have vowed never to set foot across state lines again after reading my posts on this subject. I should note that there are only a few isolated neighborhoods around here that have this problem. I just got lucky.


  1. Anonymous

    Your MIL must be a closet homeschooler. “Angry scorpion in a cage? Let’s release it and do a nature study!”

    Maybe not.


  2. Anonymous

    OHMYGOSH you poor thing. you didn’t even get the pleasure of turning on the disposal

  3. asv

    Dear Jen
    The other day a friend mentioned something about bugs in her house, and I asked everyone present: And have you ever had scorpions in your house? (We live in Southeast TX). No, was the answer, they asked me why? Of course I didn’t bother explaining that I know this lady that blogs and has this problem. I realized I don´t know you, but it is a little bit as if I did. I’ve been following your scorpion issues and I really am sorry you have to go through all of this. I also am terrified of scorpions. I really understand you.
    Love your blog, and also, you have some great ‘commentators’… I enjoy reading the comments also.

  4. Christine

    Oh, goodness, Jen! Whimsy’s comment strikes me as hysterical, though I am positive you will not look back on this and laugh for a good while yet.

    I will pray for you and your family that (a) the scorpions go away (on tour or to Germany where they belong?) and (2) that your mother in law will not do anything remotely friendly to the scorpions while they are still there.

    Oh, and I’ll speak to Saint Francis about this, too. Not that you haven’t been, but maybe if we all bug him about it (pun intended), he will put in some extra intercessions for you guys.

    This post makes me feel silly that I complained about deer eating my plants. Or even the lady bugs from Springtime. Scorpions are much worse!

  5. Entropy


    I’m almost sorry to have enjoyed your misery, uh, I mean, story so much!

  6. Ouiz

    You have NO IDEA how badly you are freaking me out with these stories.


    My feet are WAY off the floor at this moment, and it will be quite some time before I let them down again.

  7. Jay

    Maybe there is some sort of scorpion nest very close of your house or even in the house – get your anti-bug team, the best in town, asap. God bless,

  8. William Eunice

    I am enjoying your scorpion escapades even though I realize they are terrifying for you. We had a black widow problem at one point. I have killed over 30 in the last year with the majority of them being in a two week period shortly after we moved in. I had 3 children at the time ( ages 5,3,2) … I eventually instigated mud bowl in my back yard to attract a natural predator and my new best friend the mud dauber.

  9. Amber

    Um, Yikes!! This doesn’t exactly bode well for the weekend, does it. I do like her solution of putting it down the garbage disposal though. 🙂

    Man, this whole scorpion thing was funny at first, but now it is just getting disturbing – those critters sound awful!!

  10. Adoro te Devote

    LOL~ I’m cringing and laughing and disturbed all at the same time.

    I’m not sure how you have managed to retain your sanity. If someone shook a scorpion in MY face first thing in the morning, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to leave my room again.

  11. melanieb

    I’m not sure I’ll ever get my husband to move to Austin with me after telling him about your scorpion woes. I tried to explain that in my parent’s neighborhood we’ve never seen a scorpion in more than 30 years. But he’s a little freaked out. I wonder if he’ll even let us go back for a visit at Christmas!

  12. :o)

    What a morning you had! You weren’t tempted to stuff your MIL in the disposal after her antics? You have amazing restraint and charity.

  13. beez

    Gosh, Jen… I hate to say it, but I don’t want you to get rid of your scorpions! I love the scorpion posts!

  14. Amber

    You know, I had been feeling kind of smug about the whole scorpion thing, knowing that it wasn’t something that I would have to ever deal with.

    Well, I guess I have to take that back now… my supposedly scorpion-free world has been rocked. My husband was up on our property over the weekend and he saw one under a rock. Gack! It was only about the size of a quarter, but maybe it was only a baby. *sigh* Just when I thought it was safe…

  15. Ouiz

    This may be small consolation, but going to this website
    shows that they’ve got many different species of scorpions in Israel… which means, of course, that the Holy Family had to deal with them too.

    So, if you ask for Mary’s intercession, you can do so knowing that you’re talking to another mother who KNOWS what it’s like to freak out to see something like this scurrying through the house….

    Still keeping my feet up as I type this… ewwwwwww.

  16. lyrl

    My family lived in several towns in the Texas panhandle, in the Houston area, and in the Dallas area – that Dallas suburb was the only place we ever heard of scorpions. And chiggers, for that matter (though certainly not as terror-inspiring as scorpions, chiggers are disturbing in their own way). I don’t think you need to make a public service announcement – Texas is a LARGE state (I laugh when people complain about how long it takes to drive across the midwestern states), and a large majority of it is scorpion-free.

  17. Mahsheed

    Scorpions are scary worse than spiders and I’m sorry to hear about your problem with them. But your posts are very funny though, it’s nice that you have a sense of humor about it!

    Do scorpions have natural predators or plants they don’t like I wonder?

  18. Anonymous

    I lived in TX (the Hill Country – Boerne, to be exact) about 20 years ago, and we had our fair share of scorpion encounters (and armadillo, tarantula, deer, rattle snake, etc.). If we ever caught them in the house, we would just kill them immediately – either smoosh them or chuck them in the disposal. We never released them back into the “wild” because (I could be wrong about our info here but) we thought they had something like one-acre territories. So putting them outside only meant they might try to get back in.

    As for my very own, horrific close encounter….I had one on my foot in the shower one day! Only I couldn’t initially tell that it was a scorpion because I was (and am) blind as a bat! I thought it was just a random hair tickling my foot, so imagine my surprise when I leaned over to take a closer look! I flicked my foot hard to chuck the beastie off of me, grabbed my towel and ran to get my mom to kill it for me (I was nekkid, afterall!).

    Not fun, but par for the course when you live life as a Texan! 🙂

    – Bridget

  19. Stephanie

    Your PSA is a good one…I’ve lived in Austin all my life and have never seen a live scorpion in any house I’ve lived in! Now..roaches? Plenty of those…and big ugly ones too. But I’ll take roaches over scorpions any day!

  20. jennyann

    Oh my goodness……I can’t stop laughing (unfortunately, at your expense). This is both hilarious and horrifying, and I hope your scorpion issues have resolved since you wrote these posts!


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