This July, Gunnar Nystrom and Schyler Ellsworth, two PhD students in the Rokyta Lab, drove across the U.S. to Arizona and California to study venom from different scorpion and centipede species. The primary goal was to collect preliminary data for Gunnar’s dissertation project. He is particularly interested in studying the role of antimicrobial peptides in the venom of the giant desert hairy scorpions (genus Hadrurus, shown below). Because some species in this genus have been observed to spray themselves with their own venom, it is thought that their venom may play a role in microbiome regulation. Luckily for us, scorpions have a compound in their exoskeleton that fluoresces under UV light, which makes them easy to find in the desert at night!