View Full Version : Creepy crawlies in my sleeping bag?

01-19-2010, 19:06
I think I've seen this question answered before, but I need to put my mind at ease again:

If I'm cowboy camping at any point, what are the chances that scorpions or snakes or other unpleasant critters will decide to cuddle with me in the night? I sleep under a tarp with no bivy or netting in the Northeast most of the time, so I'm used to finding slugs on me in the mornings, but as far as I know, slugs don't sting/bite. Anybody have any thoughts on this for the PCT?

01-19-2010, 19:15
Not likely. PCT hikers have spent thousands of hours cowboying and I've never heard anyone wake up with a rattlesnake in their bag. Though you do risk the possibility of being bit by a scorpion or spider (never heard of the former happening).

I tended to be in the group that almost always slept in my tarptent. Much of it is psychological, but I found the extra 3 minutes it took to put up and take down the TT provided a lot better sleep and peace of mind. Wehther it be the wind, sun in the morning, rain sprinke or creeping crawlies, I liked not having to wake up in the middle of the night.

01-19-2010, 19:18
If you cowboy camp in the southwest this is possible. On the other hand I also had a scorpion in my bed at home. He did not survive the encounter.

I would expect that you might have some creepy crawlies in Southern California at times. Be sure you check your boots before you put them on.

01-19-2010, 19:29
I'm under the distinct impression that the only poisonous scorpions (systemically dangerous, other than allergies) are in Central/South America and Arizona. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty certain on this without looking it up.

Pacific Tortuga
01-19-2010, 19:34
On the other hand, a cold desert night may have reptilians looking for a little 98.6. Na, highly unlikely :eek:

01-19-2010, 20:02
I've seen you, and believe me, no creepy crawly thing will come near you. Just kidding, of course. See you at the Kickoff.

01-19-2010, 20:57
I've seen you, and believe me, no creepy crawly thing will come near you. Just kidding, of course. See you at the Kickoff.

hahaha. Yep, that's what I usually rely on. But I figure I'm also warmer than the snakes, and if they like that kind of thing...

Well, I'll just hope nothing crawls into my quilt with me in the middle of the night. I'd be more worried about the scorpions, since they're much smaller. I've never heard anything about US scorpions being non-poisonous... I certainly wouldn't assume that without some serious scientific evidence.

Any other thoughts?

Jim Adams
01-19-2010, 21:02
Generally there are no scorpions in the U.S. that are deadly unless you are allergic to them the same as people are allergic to bees.
I cowboy camped alot on the southern PCT and never had any problems at night but definitely dump out your shoes in the morning before putting them on.


01-20-2010, 00:23
I cowboy camp all the time in SoCal and everywhere else for that matter. On the PCT this past year, I used a tarp 9 times and cowboy camped for the rest of the trip (though being under a tarp isn't much different). I wouldn't loose any sleep over it.

I've heard the stories about snakes somehow getting in your sleeping bag. But I've never been able to find someone who actually had it happen. It's always a friend of a friend of a friend. Or I read about it happening on the internet. I'm sure its possible, but it seems extremely unlikely.

That said, a little prevention never hurt anyone. Be selective when picking a campsite. Look for ants and never camp near holes in the ground. Something lives in those holes. While the lizards aren't a problem, snakes and especially rodents may be, so its best to avoid any potential problems. No matter where you are, I do recommend always shaking out your shoes before putting them on as something can crawl inside. I've never found a scorpion in one, but I have found the occasional spider and ants. And twice at home, I found a cochroach; that wasn't a pleasant feeling when I put my shoe on with it crawling inside.

01-20-2010, 00:34
I've seen more scorpians in my house than I have ever seen cowboy camping. I just put a few rocks under the edge of my tarp to make it harder to walk across.

Spirit Walker
01-20-2010, 00:37
I've woken up to find scorpions in my bed twice - but both times I was in Arizona. We did put the tent up most of the time in southern California though. Coming from Arizona, I was worried about the snake issue. I've had rattlesnakes come within a few feet of my tent, and I've heard the stories too. I've known people who had mice in their sleeping bags (on the AT) as well as skunks and bears sniffing their heads, so I don't think the snake stories are just urban legend -- but I haven't heard any first person stories to confirm that.

Johnny Appleseed
01-20-2010, 02:31
kiss a snake and huge a bear. That's what mummy always said.

Scorpions w/ smaller pinchers are more poisonous. I am referring to the type and not the age/size of a particular scorpion. Most are mildly venomous creating an irritation. Not sure of the number of dangerous ones, but it is very limited.

01-20-2010, 07:57
I did have a cicada in my bag a few years back and when I rolled over it buzzed like a rattlesnake! I did quite a dance!

01-20-2010, 08:27
This is good. I feel better now. Thanks everybody!

01-20-2010, 09:06
My brother put his foot in his shoe once and his toe said hello to mr. scorpion. It swelled up a bit and turned red, but he lived. The scorpion did not. Just shake out your shoes, and your sleeping bag in the morning. You don't want to carry any extra weight in case there is one hiding in there somewhere. :-)

01-20-2010, 10:34
A woman in 08 named Spiderwoman got her name because she woke up with spiders all over her face. She ordered a tent after that.

I think I cowboy camped half a dozen times and I used a tarp for a few weeks. I didn't have much trouble with things getting into my sleeping bag. I would watch spiders and ants crawl over my things. Only the ants got into my sleeping bag. This was annoying.

I would worry less about snakes and scorpions and more about the velvet ants and the giant ants. The velvet ants sting hard. They are actually wasps. They are everywhere. My friend called them antchulas since they looked like a cross between a tarantula and an ant. I watched them crawl around my cowboy camp but they couldn't figure out how to get over my plastic ground cloth.

The giant ants are the biggest problem. They are very curious and crawl all over you. I had a really hard time taking a nap. They don't bite, but it keeps you awake.

01-20-2010, 10:44
I'm under the distinct impression that the only poisonous scorpions (systemically dangerous, other than allergies) are in Central/South America and Arizona. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty certain on this without looking it up.
I think Arizona wins the battle for having the nasties.
I've been nailed by the three common ones here in Costa Rica and other than some pain. Nuttin to it.
Ammonia helps a lot, if you get it on quick.

01-20-2010, 12:06
This guy didn't let a little bug bother him! :eek:

Hiker X
01-22-2010, 08:50
Just make sure you don't setup camp in one of those ball pits you see at Chuck E Cheese. I hear those are just swarming with snakes.

01-25-2010, 00:41
you'll be fine, don't worry about it. I cowboy camped every night in the desert, two years in a row. No issues.

01-25-2010, 02:14
In AZ, during winter, scorpions will hide under underground so there are no worries. Snakes are hibernating. Its during the early summer you have to be alert for scorpions. Try to keep your camp away from rocky cliff walls.

Never had any problems with either. They seem to stay away from you. during the summer Tarantulas will come out at night looking for a mate, but I try not to hike in the desert during the summer. ;)


01-25-2010, 03:15
This guy didn't let a little bug bother him! :eek:

That's gotta be a "keeper"

01-25-2010, 03:21
I cowboy camped for the most part until K.M. and no problems. As someone else mentioned, watch for ants before you conk out. Sometimes beetles would crawl over my bag, but no biggie. There are a LOT LESS creepy-crawlies out west than in the northeast, which you mentioned having experience with, so don't sweat it. Mosquitos do become an issue,though. However, I didn't really notice them until Yosemite.