Abstract A nocturnal desert scorpion, Paruroctonus mesaensis, uses information that propagates through sand to locate prey as far as 50 cm away. Visual and air-borne auditory stimuli from nearby prey do not influence the scorpion's localizing behaviour. Adult scorpions accurately determine both the direction and distance of a standard vibration source less than 15 cm away. At greater distances, only direction of the vibration source is determined. Some qualities of the substrate disturbances (intensity, temporal pattern, and direction of target movement) are also sensed from a distance, while others (geometric size and composition of the disturbing object) do not influence the orientation response.