“Vinegaroon” Scary-looking, but harmless, cousin of the spider
A giant vinegaroon that is famously called the whip scorpion for its whip-like tail, is common in North America.
The species, under the scientific name mastigoproctus giganteus, is one of those harmless insects that looks like a cross between a spider and scorpion.
The name vinegaroon is not only used for scorpions but also spiders and bugs. A vinegaroon is also known as ‘Uropygi‘ especially among the scientific groups as an alternate name to suggest the order Uropygi.
Vinegaroons are nonvenomous and as their defense mechanism, they use the spray technique where they spray a combination of caprylic acid and acetic acid that gives out a pungent odor.
These insects are calm in nature and lead a solitary, unperturbed, and peaceful life (even during the breeding season). They do not form colonies and even the males and females live separately.
They are adept enough to fend for themselves in the wilderness. However, the rate of population growth of mastigoproctus giganteus has not been evaluated.
Vinegaroons generally have reddish-brown or dark brown shades. They possess a body structure that appears like the combination of a scorpion and spider as factually, they are closer relatives to spiders.
Their pedipalps have developed into two big claws on either side. They have four pairs of legs in total, the last three are used for moving while the first pair of frontal legs act as sensory organs.
They also have a whip-like tail instead of the stinger. Their body structure can be divided into prosoma and opisthosoma, that is cephalothorax and abdomen respectively.
The females have smaller pedipalps when compared with the males. They have eight eyes but very poor eyesight.
These insects have an average length of 1.6-2.4 in (40-60mm). It is almost four times smaller than the giant forest scorpion that stands at a length of around nine inches (23 cm).
Giant vinegaroons are known to run very fast. They can even make quick leaps and jumps. However, the accurate speed limit is unknown as it has not yet been ascertained.
Whip scorpions are carnivorous and their diet mainly consists of other bark scorpions, insects like crickets, cockroaches, and others, isopods, millipedes, as well as slugs and worms.
A vinegaroon scorpion thrives in deserts. However, they can also survive in tropical and temperate climates found in the grasslands, woodlands, forests, and mountainous areas.
Vinegaroon scorpions are known to live in secluded places like inside a burrow, hole, or even under rocks or rotting wood.
The breeding process for Mastigoproctus giganteus initiates at night during the fall season.
Unlike many other species of animals, the reproduction process is actually started by the female where it looks for and approaches the male.
The approving male engages in a ‘courtship dance’ with the female while the disapproving male often engages in a fight. In the first case, both genders use their pedipalps to mate.
In the second case, the male uses their pedipalps against the pedipalps of the female to fight.
However, after the males release their spermatophore and complete the process, females become internal carriers of the fertilized eggs for a few months before they transfer those eggs to sacs attached to their abdomen.
Every sac contains 30 to 40 eggs. During this time, the female generally serves the gestation period of nearly two months in a burrow clutching at the sac as the eggs slowly develop.
After hatching from the eggs, the scorplings crawl up to stay on their mother’s back for some time until they get the first molt.
Since the newborns stay on the mother’s back for a month, the mother eventually becomes extremely fragile due to prolonged starvation and hard labor and ultimately perishes.
Would they make a good pet?
If the popular belief is to be considered, these scorpions can serve as a good pet since it is not venomous and is pretty docile in nature.
They are not even dangerous in the presence of children.
However, the requirements for vinegaroon care can be painstaking as they must be kept and maintained in a regulated space that is an imitation of their natural habitat.