The whip scorpion, aka vinegaroon, is a nocturnal (active at night), carnivorous arthropod. They hide under leaf matter, wood, or rocks during the day, and prey on insects and other arthropods at night. They are not venomous, contrary to their namesake. There are 15 known species of Mastigoproctus. There are 3 subspecies of M. giganteus that are all found in North America. I have worked extensively with these amazing arachnids. They are among my favorite arachnids. They like deserts in the southwestern United States and in Mexico, as well as grasslands and arid scrublands in Florida.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Mastigoproctus giganteus
Weight: Up to .02 ounces
Length: Up to 5 inches
Lifespan: Up to 7+ years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) First of all, there are over 100 known species of whip scorpions!
2.) They have the ability, when threatened, to discharge a foul liquid which contains acetic acid, producing a vinegar-like smell. As a result of getting sprayed, the victim will experience burning, if the liquid gets into their eyes!
3.) Males secrete a spermatophore (a united mass of sperm), which is transferred to the female during mating.
4.) The female vinegaroon will dig a large burrow and seal herself inside. Up to 40 eggs are then laid.
5.) The white 1st instars that hatch from the eggs climb onto their mother’s back and attach themselves with special suckers.
But wait, there’s more on the whip scorpion!
6.) While whip scorpions are found in desert regions, they are also found in tropical and subtropical areas excluding Europe and Australia.
7.) Being part of the arachnid family, they are (like spiders, scorpions, and solifugae) nearly blind. As a result, they rely on their front two legs and fine hairs on their body to detect vibrations and attack their prey based on that movement.
Did you know…?
Whip scorpions are not venomous at all. They rely on their large, strong pendipalps to capture prey items.
8.) The prey is crushed between special teeth on the inside of the trochanters (the second segment of the “legs”) of the front appendages!
9.) Slugs, crickets, termites, worms, and cockroaches make up their diet.
10.) They are preyed on by armadillos, coatis, raccoons, and skunks to name a few.
Now a Short Whip Scorpion Video!
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The acid sprayed out is composed of 84% acetic acid, 5% caprylic acid, and 11% water. The caprylic acid helps to get through the hard exoskeleton of a would-be attacker.