The Arizona Bark scorpion is an animal native to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States. It is the most venomous of scorpions in North America, injecting an excruciatingly painful poison that can be lethal to its prey, children and the elderly.
When the last of the evening light fades and the temperatures decrease, the scorpions emerge from the stones and piles of wood on the desert floor, moving about nearly undetected under the night sky. Only while shining UV flashlights on the ground are they recognizable, glowing like bright stars against their dark background. The scorpions glow because of their exoskeletons, which contain molecules that absorb and re-emit UV light as visible light.
I have visited Arizona many times over the past twenty years, but only recently saw scorpions in their natural habitat. Determined to find these desert creatures, I went on an evening hike with UV flashlights and my camera in tow. At dusk I trekked up a pathway and turned around once the light began to fade. First I saw one, then another, and another, until finally I observed and photographed a total of 14 scorpions. My photo process involved two people shining UV lights onto the scorpions while I quickly photographed them. To avoid unwelcome stings, the photographing was frequently interrupted by checking the ground around our feet. The danger surrounding the subject matter and the thrilling possibility of the scorpions stinging at any moment made for an exhilarating photo-taking experience.
These pictures have not been altered in any way, and show the scorpions as I saw them, glowing in neon colors under the UV flashlights.
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