Who invited the scorpion to Beaufort?

BEAUFORT -- The Pelkey family found an uninvited guest in their Laurel Bay home over the weekend, and scientists are working to determine where it came from.

Amberlee Pelkey, 23, said her mother, Diana,was doing laundry Sunday when she moved a laundry bag and found a small scorpion.

The scorpion pinched her, and Pelkey began calling doctors, believing her mother had been stung by the inch-long arthropod.

"I started calling hospitals to see how poisonous scorpions are, but no one seemed to believe that it happened," she said.

Pelkey said she scooped the scorpion into a mason jar, filled the jar with laundry soap and killed it.

However, the scorpion's death has done little to calm Pelkey's fears about what might be crawling around her home.

"It looked like a baby, so my first thought was, 'OK, where's the mommy and the daddy?'" she said. "We don't know if one of the guys brought it over from deployment in Iraq, or Yuma, or Florida, but I have small children and a small animal and now I'm worried that I have scorpions in my house."

A pest control company took the scorpion Tuesday to be examined by Clemson University's Beaufort County Extension to determine the species and its origin.

The presence of one scorpion in a home isn't cause for alarm, said Ian Stocks, insect diagnostician and collections manager of Clemson University's arthropod collection.

"I generally counsel people to not panic, especially if it's verified as one of our native species," he said. "Since scorpions vary in size, the size of the scorpion doesn't mean anything in particular until we know what species it is."

Centruroides hentzi is one species of scorpion native to the Atlantic coast, he said.

Dixie Lanier, spokeswoman for Atlantic Marine Corps Communities, said the company is workingto figure out how the scorpion got into the home.

Atlantic Marine Corps Communities is the parent company of Tri-Command Communities, which owns the base housing for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Laurel Bay.

Pelkey's husband, Josh, is stationed at the air station and is serving a combat tour in Iraq.

Pelkey said she has big plans for the scorpion when it returns to Laurel Bay.

The family plans to pin the arthropod to a piece of cardboard and encase it in polyurethane, Pelkey said.

"We're going to paperweight it," she said, with a chuckle.