ARACHNODATA's current major projects

Scorpions of Switzerland / scorpionism in Iran / scorpion fauna of the Middle East


Scorpions of Switzerland: their biology and distribution

Euscorpius italicus Distribution of scorpions in Switzerland

Euscorpius italicus (Foto: Rémy Steinegger)

  • Project summary:
    Revision of de Lessert's Catalogue des Invertébrés de la Suisse, fasc. 10, Scorpions of 1917. Compilation and mapping of >1'400 new geographical records for Euscorpius italicus (Herbst, 1800),  E. germanus (C.L. Koch, 1837) and E. alpha (di Caporiacco, 1950)  in Switzerland. Comprehensive field and laboratory studies on the biology and ecology of both species, mainly in the Canton of Ticino, in Grisons in the southeastern valleys of the Mesocco, Bregaglia, Poschiavo and Müstair and in the Canton of Valais in the Rhone valley near Sion and in the Zwischbergental south of the Simplon. Examination of the present status of threat in populations of both species by natural reasons and human activities in different regions and proposal of conservation and protection strategies where applicable. Another topic of research is focussed on the historical and cultural significance of scorpions in medicine, religion, tradition, arts, superstition etc. in Switzerland.

  • Project costs:
    The project costs 1998-1999 of SFr. 58'600.-- have completely been funded by the Dr. Bertold Suhner-Stiftung für Natur-, Tier- und Landschaftsschutz, the Ella & J. Paul Schnorf Stiftung, Pro Natura (Switzerland), Pro Natura (Ticino) and Pro Natura (Grisons). The project costs of all the other years from 1992 to 2004 were privately funded by ARACHNODATA and his owner respectively. 

  • Publication:
    The results of this project (1992 to 1999) are presented in the series FAUNA HELVETICA 13 of the Swiss Center for the Cartography of the Fauna  (SZKF/CSCF) and the Swiss Society of Entomology (SEG) in German and Italian. A summary in English has already been published.

New and advanced results of these studies will continuously be published in separate papers in scientific journals and notified on the page publications.




The medical and social significance of scorpionism in the southern provinces of Iran

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  • Project summary:
    For many decades, scorpionism is a known significant problem of medical and social importance in many North African countries and in the Middle East, in Mexico and in Brazil. No official information on this subject were available from Iran, particularly from the southern provinces. Finally in 1996, ARACHNODATA was for the first time informed that more than 20'000 sting patients or app. 1 % of the population were officially recorded and medically treated in just a few hospitals in the province of Khuzestan. In 37 cases, the patients (most of them children at the ages of less than 10 years) died. However, it must be estimated that the total rate of the annual scorpion sting accidents is much higher, about 1 % in cities and > 5 % in rural areas. Responsible for these estimated  >100'000 stings each year (> 75 % of them effecting children!) are primarely the buthid species Mesobuthus eupeus (45 %) and Androctonus crassicauda (41 %) and Hemiscorpius lepturus (13 %) of the family of Hemiscorpionidae.

hemisc.jpg (10364 Byte)child.jpg (11556 Byte)

sting injury of H. lepturus (after 5 days) sting injury of H. lepturus (after 10 days)

Picture legends:
above left:  Hemiscorpius lepturus (male) (Foto: Dr. S. Tirgari)
above right: 7year old child with severe hemolysis and renal failure in coma, 14 hours after triple sting injury from H. lepturus. (Foto: M.E. Braunwalder)
below left: Extensive damage to skin and subcutaneous tissues with development of ulcers, 4 days after sting accident with H. lepturus.
below right: Same case as before. Complete sloughing of skin (necrosis), 6 days later. (Fotos: Dr. M. Radmanesh)

  • In collaboration with governmental bodies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Tehran University for Medical Sciences, ARACHNODATA is committed to coordinate and conduct a number of different projects on the biology, ecology and epidemiology of scorpions and to launch a few comparative clinical studies on traditional and advanced new First-Aid and medical treatment methods .

    This project includes the organization and coordination of:

    - general libraries of arachnological papers and books at universities,
    - representative scorpion and other arachnid collections in major
      universities and museums,
    - colloquia on general arachnological subjects
    - intensive training courses and workshops for students from interdisciplinary sciences fields,
    - efficacious strategies to beat scorpionism with national education programs and campaigns.

    ARACHNODATA has furthermore initiated the first study to be conducted by the world's leading scientific experts of scorpion venoms at the Laboratoire de Biochimie of the Université de la Mediterranée in Marseille (France) on the biochemical analysis and on the biological and toxicological effects of the presumed hemo- and cytotoxic acting venom of Hemiscorpius lepturus. (as impressively demonstrated in above pictures).

  • Project fundings (only for ARACHNODATA's committment) of app. $ 52'000.00 per annum are urgently needed and welcomed! 

  • Grants:
    A travel grant has been awarded by the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences (SANW) to ARACHNODATA in 1997 to introduce mentioned projects in Iran.



International project on the scorpion fauna
of the circum Eastern Mediterranean area and in the Middle East

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  • Project summary:
    The fauna and zoogeography of the scorpions in the circum Eastern Mediterranean area and in the Middle East are not well researched and based upon specimens randomly collected and described by various authors in the past 150 years. A first revision of the scorpions in this region was provided by Kinzelbach in 1975 and completed with maps in 1985. However, the taxonomical validity of some species and most of subspecies, first of all those in the genus Euscorpius (Euscorpiidae) is still unclear and their geographic ranges remain rather uncertain. Current comparative studies on mitochondrial DNA and nuclear gene (allozymes) variation (Gantenbein et al., 1999) of these scorpions revealed so promising first results that, as a consequence, a longer-termed international research project was introduced at the 8th. International Congress on the Zoogeography and Ecology of Greece and adjacent regions in Kavala (Macedonia) in May 1999. This report has meanwhile been published:

    Fet, V. & M.E. Braunwalder (2000): The scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones) of the Eastern Mediterranean area: Current problems in taxonomy and biogeography. Belgium Journal of Zoology, 130 (supplement 1); 15-20.

    Major aims of this project are to prepare accurate identification keys on national and regional scorpion species for scientists and non-scientists working in such fields as zoology, ecology, education and particularly Public Health and social and education departments since scorpions are a significant problem of considerable medical and social importance in this region.

    The details of this project will soon be published on this website.

  • Project fundings:
    The budgeted project costs of app. $ 25'000.00 per annum (years 2004-2008) need urgently to be funded! Offers are higly appreciated.

  • Important invitation for cooperation:
    If you work in this region as a scientist or travel as a tourist and in case you accidentally find dead scorpions, then please send them, preserved in a vial with 70% ethyle alcohole and accurate description(s) of the collecting site(s), as post-parcel  to: 
    ARACHNODATA, Frauentalweg 97, CH-8045 Zurich/Switzerland.

    Museums, institutes, universities and individuals are kindly invited to check their collections and send their still undetermined and unpublished scorpion material from this region for examination.

If you intend to fund or support the one or other project, then please notify by e-mail.