Influences of urban land use on the frequency of scorpion stings in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area

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Between 3000 and 4000 people report being stung by scorpions each year in the Phoenix, AZ, metropolitan area, but the frequency of stings is not distributed evenly across the metropolitan area: certain areas consistently exhibit higher numbers of scorpion stings than the other parts of the city. I overlaid data from the Phoenix Samaritan Regional Poison Center about the number of scorpion stings per ZIP Code onto a Geographic Information System coverage of land use in the Phoenix metropolitan area. I then compared the types and amounts of land use among ZIP Codes that differed in the number of scorpion stings. The number and geographic location of scorpion stings in the Phoenix metropolitan area were reflected in the presence and abundance of some forms of urban land use. In particular, density of single-family homes and proximity to undeveloped open space were good predictors of the frequency of scorpion stings. These results may be useful to potential home-buyers by making them aware of areas that are at higher risk of scorpion encounters. This information may also be helpful to land use planners and developers in the cost-benefit analysis of deciding how and where future development in Phoenix should occur. One recommendation for future urban development is to consider how high-density housing (≥6 dwellings per acre) may minimize human-scorpion encounters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 15 1999


  • Scorpion
  • Sting
  • Urban land use


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