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Leiurus sp., Yellow scorpion

Clinical entries


Originally considered a monotypic genus, 4 more species have been described since 2002:


  1. L. abdullahbayrami
  2. L. jordanensis
  3. L. nasheri
  4. L. quinquestriatus
  5. L. savanicola


Arachnida; Scorpiones; Buthidae

Common names

Yellow scorpion, Gelber Skorpion


North Africa and Middle East.


  1. Southeast Turkey
  2. Jordan, Saudi Arabia
  3. Yemen
  4. Africa: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia. Middle East: Sinai, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
  5. Northern Cameroon


Since 2009, the populations in southeast Turkey are all considered L. abdullahbayrami (Yagmur et al. 2009) and not, as previously thought, L. quinquestriatus!


Fig. 4.36 Leiurus quinquestriatus


Map 4. Leiurus quinquestriatus. African populations largely belong to the subspecies L. quinquestriatus quinquestriatus, whereas the subspecies in the Middle East is L. quinquestriatus hebraeus.


Delicate pincers, tail relatively thin. Colouring from light yellow to orange-brown. The 5th tail segment may be darker. Length up to more than 9 cm.

In Israel L. quinquestriatus is the most common species of scorpion and in some areas occurs in great numbers. In Israel they avoid the coastal plains, as well as areas with sand dunes or heavy soil. Usually found in rocky desert areas, under flat stones, or in loosely built stone walls, and sometimes also enter houses.

In North Africa Leiurus is also found in mountainous areas, but not higher than 900 m above sea level.



Along with Androctonus sp., Leiurus is justifiably considered the most dangerous species of scorpion in North Africa and the Middle East (see also "Risk" for Androctonus sp.). In mice, Leiurus venom shows the highest toxicity of all scorpion venoms investigated to date (Zlotkin et al. 1978).

The most detailed clinical and epidemiological information regarding Leiurus comes from Israel. It is responsible for most scorpion stings in that country and for the majority of severe and fatal stings (Efrati 1949, Amitai et al. 1985, Gueron and Yaron 1970, Hershkovich et al. 1985). In more recent times the number of deaths due to envenoming has decreased greatly due to improved medical treatment. Efrati (1949) determined a fatality rate of 27% between 1935 and 1947. A more recent study estimates the proportion of fatal cases to be 1.2% (Hershkovich et al. 1985). Accidents most commonly occur in rural areas, but to a smaller extent also in urban regions. The most severely affected are children under 15 years. In the Negev desert, the Bedouins represent the largest risk group.

The results of a prospective study of 47 children with scorpion stings from the Saudi Arabian province Asir (Annobil 1993b) suggest that L. quinquestriatus causes the majority of stings there. That study draws attention to the species Nebo hierochonticus (family Diplocentridae), which was previously considered harmless. From a total of 4 cases with severe envenoming, Nebo hierochonticus was responsible for 2 and also for the sole fatality.

Another more recent study on scorpion stings in children was carried out in northwest Saudi Arabia (El-Amin 1992). In the cases in which the scorpion that caused the sting could be identified, the proportion caused by L. quinquestriatus was around 70% (30% Androctonus crassicauda). Of the 96 children stung, 2 died and almost a quarter suffered a severe course of envenoming, which in most cases was attributed to Leiurus.

In Jordan also L. quinquestriatus (L. jordanensis?) is blamed for most serious scorpion stings (Wahbeh 1965, Amr et al. 1988), and likewise in Turkey Leiurus (now L. abdullahbayrami) is considered the most dangerous species, alongside A. crassicauda (Tulga 1964). With LD50 of 0.19 mg/kg the venom of L. abdullahbayrami has been shown to be very potent when tested subcutaneosely in mice (Ozkan et al. 2011).

Literature (biological)

Vachon 1949, 1966, 1979, Levi and Amiati 1980, Keegan 1980, Kinzelbach 1985, Fet et al. 2000, Kovarik 2007, Lourenco et al. 2006, Yagmur et al. 2009

The Scorpion Files

The Scorpion Fauna