Entomology at the Shopping Mall


Scorpion in the Dressing Room
Photo: Sandra Hernandez

I am not a big fan of shopping malls. However, this article about a shopping trip to the Southland Mall in Hayward, California piqued my interest. A woman shopping for dresses went to the fitting room to try one on. She shook the dress and was startled to see a scorpion fall to the floor. In another age, the first response might have been to stomp it. In our modern elightened age, the first response is to film it with cell phone camera. A TV station received the footage and the shopper got 15 minutes of fame.

The shopper and a store worker tried to corner and capture the scorpion but it wasn’t having it. It scurried into a crack in the woodwork. Was the scorpion indavertantly packed into a shipment of dresses? Or is it a native and perhaps permanent resident of the mall? Identification of the species could help solve the mystery.

Scorpions are predators that use their venom to immobilize and capture insect prey. Depending on the sanitation, a scorpion may find a feast at a mall consisting of urban pests such as cockroaches and insects attracted to lights.

Is this story a marketing win? The store and mall logged free air time and many internet hits. On the downside, people afraid of scorpions and other arthropods may now be put off from the mall. Personally, the thought of finding scorpions would make any mall trip less boring.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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