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Tityus spp., with the focus on medically important species

Clinical entries


Genus with over 200 species. The following are considered dangerous species:

  1. T. asthenes
  2. T. bahiensis
  3. T. confluens
  4. T. fuhrmanni
  5. T. pachyurus
  6. T. pusillus
  7. T. serrulatus
  8. T. stigmurus
  9. T. trinitatis
  10. T. trivittatus


Arachnida; Scorpiones; Buthidae

Common names



Tityus spp.: from Costa Rica to Argentina. West Indies.

  1. Costa Rica, Colombia
  2. Southern and southeast Brazil and northern Argentina (Misiones) 
  3. Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil
  4. Colombia
  5. Costa Rica, Colombia
  6. Brazil
  7. Southeast Brazil, but spreading to the North and West of Brazil 
  8. Northeast Brazil 
  9. Venezuela and Trinidad  
  10. Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay


Fig. 4.37 Tityus serrulatus


Map 5: Approximate distribution of Tityus spp. (hatched area: T. serrulatus).


Slender pincers. Body length of T. bahiensis, T. serrulatus, T. stigmurus and T. trivittatus up to around 7 cm, T. trinitatis up to around 9 cm.

Colouring: T. serrulatus yellowish to dark brown, legs and tail in lighter shades of yellow. T. bahiensis uniformly brown, tail and legs reddish-brown. T. trinitatis yellow-brown to dark brown, legs and pedipalps reddish and yellow.

Members of this genus can be found under stones, dead wood, loose bark or along the banks of rivers. T. bahiensis and T. serrulatus in particular commonly live in dark crevices in and around human habitations. They are also often found in large numbers in older areas of cities. Preferred habitats of T. trinitatis in Trinidad are sugar cane and coconut plantations. This species generally does not enter houses.

T. serrulatus, T. columbianus, T. metuendus, T. stigmurus, T. trivittatus and T. uruguayensis display a biological peculiarity, in that they reproduce parthenogenetically; only female animals have been found to date (Matthiesen 1962, Lourenco 2008a). Besides these there are 5 other species of scorpions that are known to reproduce parthenogenetically.


T. serrulatus is very sucessfull in spreading into new ecological settings and to displace other species like T. bahiensis; it seems that climate change does even accelerate this process (oral communication Fan Hui Wen, 2019). This is surprising, since genetic diversity is very homogenous in parthenogenetic species and thus very vulnerable against ecological changes and pressure from other species reproducing sexually.


Many Tityus species only cause local symptoms. However, severe cases of scorpion envenoming in South America are almost always caused by stings from members of the Tityus genus. The most dangerous species are T. serrulatus in Brazil and T. trinitatis in Trinidad. T. trivittatus and T. bahiensis only rarely cause systemic envenoming (Bücherl 1971a). T. stigmurus has been held responsible for cases of severe envenoming in the northeast of Brazil (von Eickstedt 1983/84). T. asthenes, T. fuhrmanni and T. pachyurus have been held responsible for moderate to severe, life-threatening envenoming in Colombia (Gomez and Otero 2007).

Watermann (1938) reported 698 scorpion stings in Trinidad that were recorded in a single hospital during the period 1929–1933. The mortality rate in children under 5 years was 25%. Scorpion stings (T. trinitatis) are the most common cause of pancreatitis in Trinidad (Bartholomew 1970).

In Brazil, scorpion stings are a common cause of accidents with venomous animals. Magalhaes (1938) investigated 985 scorpion stings from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais: 130 patients died as a result of their sting. The highest incidence of stings occurred in the summer months of November and December. According to Bücherl (1971a) the mortality rate following envenoming by T. serrulatus is 0.8–1.4% in adults, 3–5% in school children and 15–20% in infants and young children. Between 1954 and 1965, 1,277 patients from the area around São Paulo were treated for scorpion stings at the Vital Brazil hospital. Of this number, a total of 701 cases, including 2 fatalities, were caused by T. bahiensis (Bücherl 1978). According to an epidemiological study from the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, T. serrulatus and T. bahiensis stings are relatively uncommon there. In most cases no specific treatment is necessary (Bub 1993). In a more recent publication, De Albuquerque et al. (2009) suggest that Tityus pusillus may be a potentially dangerous species in the east of Brazil.

In 2001 scorpion deaths equalled snakebite death In Brazil, but up to 2017 scorpion mortality increased steadily, whereas snakebite mortality nearly didn't change in figures. In 2017 most of the fatal cases in Brazil seem to be caused by T. serrulatus (oral communication Fan Hui Wen, 2019).

T. trivittatus is a frequent cause of scorpion stings in Argentina, but it has been reported that envenoming is generally restricted to local symptoms and transient indisposition (Abalos 1963). However, a more recent publication from Argentina reports the occurrence of regular, dangerous and sometimes fatal scorpion stings due to T. bahiensis, T. trivittatus and T. confluens (De Roodt et al. 2009).


Literature (biological)

Bücherl 1971a, 1978, Fet et al. 2000, Franke and Stockwell 1987, Keegan 1980

The Scorpion Files

The Scorpion Fauna

IABINs Species and Specimen Thematic Network