Site hosted by Build your free website today!

My Information

Kari J McWest
MS Biology (2000): West Texas A&M University
Canyon, Texas
BS Zoology (1995): Stephen F Austin State University
Nacogdoches, Texas
Email Me at .

About Me

Kari J. McWest
Canyon, Texas, USA

Palo Duro Canyon State Park as seen from Coronado Lodge.
Hunter my "then" 6-year-old son at the Overlook at Coronado Lodge.
Hunter and Me at his sixth birthday (I'm the old guy on the right). He is now 10!
Malea and Hunter at a local Confederate Air Force Fly-In in front of the only flying Navy SB2C-5 "Helldiver."
Malea after her 3rd Birthday. She is now 11!
Keisha and me at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, on our honeymoon, July 2009!

My first interests in life, according to my parents, were the myriad of little critters all around our home in Wittman, Arizona (between Wickenburg and Phoenix). These included horned lizards, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and scorpions! Problem was, I was only 2 years old! My 9-year-old (at the time) brother once brought home several baby rattlesnakes, in his hands, much to the chagrin of my mom and dad. No one was hurt. Scary thought, though.

By the time I was 7, and after several moves (Scottsdale, Wittman, Phoenix, Wickenburg, Perris, Dallas, Richardson, Irving....), we were down in Houston. My interest in natural history never waned, so my cousin bought me a 15-gallon aquarium for my 7th birthday. My dad got me the looseleaf edition of Axelrod’s Exotic Tropical Fishes, plus a subscription to Tropical Fish Hobbyist. Before I was 8, I understood binomial nomenclature.

My grandparents had moved from Solana Beach, California to Marble Falls, Texas, so we visited there often. In 1973, before my 9th birthday, we moved to Marble Falls. There I was getting into (trouble) tarantulas. While hunting tarantulas using the water-down-the-hole method, a couple of baby scorpions scurried out of a wet tarantula burrow, soon followed by their mother, a pretty Centruroides vittatus. Those were not my first scorpions to see, but were among the first. They were, however, the first scorpions I kept. I quickly got hooked!

My tarantulas and scorpions were kept in jam jars and the like, either slightly kept ajar or with holes in the tops. Occasionally, a tarantula would escape. My mom would rescue it and return it to its empty abode. Well, really more than occasionally. More like to the point that she never found scorpions in the house and had realized that tarantulas climb glass and scorpions can’t. So, I went from fish to tarantulas to scorpions.

We moved back to Houston the following Summer 1974 (I was 10), and since scorpions were not that common in Houston, I got back into tropical fish. (We would visit relatives in Marble Falls often and I would continue to keep scorpions.)

Remember the boy in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) that continuously watched television? He was from “Marble Falls, Arizona.” Funny how I was born in Scottsdale, Arizona and our “family home” is Marble Falls, Texas! OK, where was I?

Eventually we made it back to Scottsdale. I was 13 and had discovered the March 1967 article by Paul Zahl, Scorpions: Living Fossils of the Sands. This article “introduced” me to the names Stanley C. Williams, Lorin Honetschlager, and Herbert L. Stahnke. I began collecting scorpions as my dad and I traveled throughout Arizona (we were rockhounds, too!) and saw one that I didn’t recognize from Levi & Zim’s Spiders and Their Kin. I found it on a rocky slope on a teddy bear cholla riddled hill west of Cave Creek while hunting both scorpions and jasper; I found a beautiful hunk of jasper! I wrote to Dr. Stahnke, drew a picture of what I had seen (unfortunately, I lost the little beast), and he promptly called me! I was so excited. He told me over the phone about the ins and outs of scorpion identification and invited me to his house to learn a few things. There, I learned how to label specimens, preserve them, keep notes, and to use a dichotomous key. The first scorpions I keyed out in his garage/lab were Vaejovis paysonensis from near Payson, Arizona. I collected scorpions and dropped them off at his lab, or took them to Arizona State University to his lab there.

Other people I met there were Lorin Honetschlager (actual discoverer of scorpion fluorescence and developer of Centruroides sculpturatus antivenins), Oscar Francke, and Mont Cazier.

In 1986, I found some Pseudouroctonus reddelli, my first vaejovids in Texas, in Georgetown. I called Stan Williams’ office number and left a message about this dark Vaejovis from Georgetown. Warren Savary called me back and I sent him the specimens. He also said they were probably P. reddelli. I recently received a copy of the original description of that species from Willis Gertsch, along with several other reprints, so I knew of the species and thought to myself, Silly Me. Warren set me up with armloads of Williams’ reprints, and a few of Stahnke’s that I never got from him personally.

Many years and many moves later (1990), I eventually discovered David Sissom through the chain of Dan Formanowicz (UT-Arlington) and James Cokendolpher. David and I went collecting on my birthday (27 May 1990) in New Mexico for his survey of New Mexico scorpions. I hadn’t gone to college, due to financial difficulties, and he told me I could get in with grants. At his urging, I applied at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology, and then to West Texas A&M University here in Canyon, where I received a Master’s Degree in Biology after a very lengthy MS Thesis: and the rest is history!

My main interests, outside of scorpions, include tropical fish, native fish (especially darters), music and guitar playing (David and I have jammed many times).

I am on an Associate Editor of the American Tarantula Society and was an early member of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute until recently (sadly, not enough money to renew). I am currently involved with REVSYS, Systematics of the Scorpion Family Vaejovidae, Scorpion Systematics Research Group of the American Museum of Natural History, among other projects.

I have collected scorpions in Mexico, California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Arkansas, and Texas, including Big Bend National Park (by permit), Big Bend Ranch State Park (field research with Dr. Sissom) and other state parks in Texas, with permits. I am one of only 3 people who has collected all of the US species of Diplocentrus.

I do not try to get stung, in fact, I hate it, but things happen when you spend a lot of time collecting! By far the worst was Centruroides vittatus! Scott Stockwell said it best by comparing the sting to “driving a nail through the sting site”! Note that he didn’t say “hitting it with a hammer”! His sting list by far outweighs mine.

Go through the Checklists to see my collection lists! Be sure to Start Your Own if you are ever out and about!

Checklist to U.S. Non-Vaejovidae
Checklist to U.S. Vaejovidae, Part I: Paruroctonus and Smeringurus
Checklist to U.S. Vaejovidae, Part II: Vaejovidae (excluding Vaejovis)
Checklist to U.S. Vaejovidae, Part III: American scorpions of the genus Vaejovis.