Scorpions have just become a whole lot more interesting! Insect artist Sarah Folts, aka The Butterfly Babe, shared a video that shows just how brilliantly these arachnids glow.
In the video, a mother scorpion and her babies are exposed to UV light. And then the magic happens... the UV light illustrates their magnificent colour. The moment the UV light was turned on, the mom transformed into fluorescent turquoise, and the babies took on a stunning purple hue.
Now the question is, what causes this magical occurrence? Scorpions have a flexible part of their exoskeleton called a cuticle. Part of that cuticle is a thin layer called the hyaline layer, which reacts with blacklight or moonlight to cause a terrific glow.
The hyaline layer remains strong, even when the scorpion is fossilised. This means that the fossilised scorpions still emit a glow when exposed to ultraviolet light. After some research, scientists have found that scorpion samples preserved in a liquid will cause the fluid to begin to glow.
Even after discovering that scorpions let off a glow, researchers are still trying to understand why scorpions have this ability. There are several theories floated by researchers but still don't have a final answer to the question.
One study, conducted in 2012, explains that fluorescence appears to help scorpions detect and avoid UV light. It explained that scorpions recognise light with their entire bodies and not just their eyes. As scorpions are nocturnal, understanding if there is light or not lets them know when they can come out and feed.
There's a reason why the mother's colour differs from her babies. The glow gets stronger as the cuticles harden, which means that scorpions don't fluoresce as much right after they moult.
Even though there is no final scientific answer to why these magnificent creatures glow, it does help out the scientists in the field... and maybe some campers. By shining a UV light in the area, researchers, hikers, or anyone else, can easily spot a scorpion lurking nearby in the evening when they are at their most active.
Hopefully, one day, a scientist will discover why these incredible creatures have this unique technique to them.