For many years scientists have wondered why scorpions glow under UV light. If you’ve never seen it before, the glow of scorpions radiates a blue-green colour which originates from a substance in the cuticle found in the exoskeleton if the scorpion. It has been speculated that this glow in the dark function works as eyes, and some even claim that it is a complete accidental chemical reaction. With these extreme explanations in mind, let us explore the various proposed explanations for this unusual occurrence.
It has been proven that scorpions have the ability to ‘see’ without using their eyes. A study at the University of Oklahoma had scorpions blindfolded. Biologist Douglas Gaffin experimented and shon various colours of light onto the scorpions. The scorpions became less responsive to blue-green lights but not to the UV Light.The scorpions responded by glowing a green-blue colour, even when they were blindfolded. It is said that the scorpions entire shell relays information about light to the nervous system.
The glow of scorpions could possibly be a survival mechanism, in order to scare off predators or to help scorpions recognize each other in the dark. According to arachnologist, Carl Kloock, depending on how much UV light shines onto scorpions, the glow could also assist them in figuring out whether to come to surface or to remain underground, protecting them from potential predators in the wild.
After Gaffin’s experiment, he also believes that scorpions convert the UV light to a colour which they are able to see best. Scorpions are extremely sensitive to light, and it is believed that once they sense shade, this could be an indication of a potential hiding place, protecting them from a possible threat.
It is also proposed that the scorpions could be glowing as a means of luring their prey. Even though generally insects avoid the fluorescence.
After much observation, Scorpion Dr. Scott A. Stockwell found that scorpions do not glow immediately after molting. As the new cuticle develops, the glowing begins again. This could mean that the substance causing the glow factor in scorpions are a byproduct of the shell hardening process.
According to Discover magazine it is highly possible that the glow of the scorpion could be the result of accidental chemical reactions.
Whether scorpions glow by accident, or if they glow for their survival, one thing that we do know for sure is that these insects are doing us a favour by being easy to spot in the dark!