Scorpions - Who's To Blame?

Tuesday July 10, 2012


Mr Pest Control


Friends of ours own a rental property in an area with scorpions. The renter's neighbors filed a formal complaint with the homeowners' association that scorpions are "nesting" in the yard and are responsible for the complainants' problems. First, do scorpions nest? Second, as pest control operators are we legally responsible for any issues that arise from scorpion problems such as medical bills, etc?

susan, NV

Mr Pest Control


Well..............a couple of interesting issues here and I am likely to tread very carefully on any advice about legal matters. But, in my opinion if someone (in this case the complaining neighbors) feel so strongly about this and feel their complaints are not resolved they may resort to a lawsuit, and in a lawsuit the attorneys are going to involve as many people as possible in an effort to get as much of an award as possible for their clients. If you are charged with eliminating pest presence on a property then yes, it is very possible that someone is going to claim that you have failed to do what you were contracted to do because those pests continue to be present on that property. And, therefore, valid or not you may become involved and told that you should feel obligated to pay for any losses suffered by people, and then of course those dandy "punitive" damages of pain, suffering, loss of sleep, etc. 

So, here is the question? Are there any scorpions living on the property of your customer? It is very easy for disgruntled neighbors to start pointing fingers at other people when they have problems, and rental properties may be subject to this even more where neighbors may not be pleased by having renters near them. Feel happy that this so far has gone only as high as the HOA, and you need to work with them to resolve it, including educating the HOA folks on scorpions, their danger or lack of danger in your area, and the ways that they can be prevented or eliminated. I believe that you should perform a very thorough inspection of your customer's property to determine if, indeed, there are any significant numbers of scorpions living there, and personally I believe you also should be given the right to inspect the properties of the complainants to see if they themselves are harboring these terrifying bugs. (That was a bit of sarcasm). 

Who knows but that this may become an opportunity for you to pick up some additional customers if you handle it diplomatically and professionally. Obviously you have people living there who have zero tolerance for scorpions, and perhaps many other bugs, and by educating the folks who live in that area on the arthropods present there and the choices for managing them you may be able to defuse this crisis. (Again, sarcasm). The important thing is to show quickly that you take this seriously, but that you want to handle it properly by ensuring that these beneficial (not sarcasm) arthropods are actually living in and near these homes and that you have found where they are harboring. Scorpions may not "nest" in the sense of social gatherings, but attractive hiding places could have multiple scorpions in them. Be aware that one inspection tool is UV light. At night you can use an ultraviolet flashlight (Univar sells these) to search for the scorpions, which fluoresce when exposed to that light. 

Bottom line as I see it is that you cannot escape some level of involvement if upset people wish to sue for damages. This is just a reality of what our industry does. And, upset people are more likely to believe that they are actually being harmed and will seek medical attention for anything they believe is related to the concern. So, jump in now with your legitimate desire to resolve this amicably for everyone, but showing that the property you are working with is or is not the epicenter of the Great Scorpion Invasion of 2012 is important. 

Mr. Pest Control

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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.