Dad whose daughter snared scorpion in Hampstead home: ‘We’ll use UV light to hunt for more’
- Credit: Archant
An unusual continental visitor with a sting in its tail was found lurking in a Hampstead home this week - and now the family who discovered it plan to hunt down more of the predators.
A maroon-coloured scorpion was discovered by the 16-year-old daughter of musician and writer Ben Watt, formerly of band Everything But The Girl, nestling by a radiator in her room on Saturday evening.
Despite the creature’s venomous reputation, daughter Alfie stayed calm.
“I didn’t know there weren’t scorpions in England so I wasn’t that freaked,” explained Alfie.
“I just thought, ‘Oh, a scorpion’, as if it were a spider or something. So I grabbed a glass and trapped it on the carpet, then called my dad.”
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Mr Watt, owner of respected electronic music label, Buzzin’ Fly, and a prize-nominated author, was on his way home from an appearance at the Manchester Literary Festival when he heard the news.
“At first I didn’t quite believe it and asked her to text me a picture,” said the 51-year-old. “Once I’d seen it, I took a deep breath and thought ‘Well at least she’s been smart enough to contain it’.”
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The family called London Zoo’s support line the next morning and drove the scorpion, named Sansa after Alfie’s favourite character in TV series Game of Thrones, in a tupperware container to its new home at the zoo’s B.U.G.S exhibit.
The zoo’s head of invertebrates, Dave Clarke, believes Sansa is a European yellow tailed scorpion.
“Although European yellow tailed scorpions are capable of stinging, it’s very unusual for them to do so,” he said. “Their sting is also innocuous, causing hardly any reaction unless a person is specifically allergic to it.”
It is still unclear how the scorpion, which is extremely common in continental Europe, came to be in Hampstead.
“The zoo thinks the most likely scenario is that it hitched a ride from abroad in a suitcase or bag,” said Mr Watt.
“Alfie hasn’t been abroad recently, but I was performing in Madrid at the beginning of October. Either that, or we have a small local population.
“There is some scant evidence of them in the south-east.
“The zoo suggested we bought a UV black light as scorpions glow in the dark. We might go night-hunting later this week to see if there are any other relations.”
The experience could serve as artistic inspiration for the musician, who said: “I go on tour this week promoting my latest album in the UK.
“Maybe I should do a Scorpions cover.”
Sansa the scorpion is now settling into her new home with everything she needs, including bark, water and tasty small invertebrates to eat.
For more information on the B.U.G.S. exhibit at London Zoo, in Regent’s Park, go to zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/exhibits/bugsRelated stories: - Scorpion found in Hampstead home of Everything But The Girl singer