Did you know? All scorpions, regardless of coloration, fluoresce under long-wave (360-400 nm) ultraviolet (UV) light, due to the presence of two compounds (beta carboline and 7-hydroxy-4-methylcoumarin) in their exocuticle. 

The significance, if any, of the fluorescence is subject to debate. It is widely thought to be nothing more than an incidental accident of chemistry. UV fluorescence is indisputably associated with the hardening of the scorpion exocuticle: the soft joints between hard plates don’t fluoresce; after molting, the soft plates doesn’t fluoresce until hardened; and the fluorescence increases with successive molts. 

The unique ability of scorpions to fluoresce under UV light greatly facilitates their collection and observation by scorpiologists at night!

Read new scorpion research by Lorenzo Prendini, a curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology.

Image: A male Brachistosternus telteca scorpion as seen under ultraviolet light. © L. Prendini/R. Mercurio