A vinegar macaroon? Doesn´t sound too good . . . actually, a vinegaroon isn´t something you eat, it´s an arachnid! Vinegaroons are also called “whip scorpions” because of their whip-like tail. Unlike scorpions, the vinegaroon doesn´t sting; it just shoots acid at you that smells like vinegar, hence the name vinegaroon. In truth, these unusual creatures are not mean, just scary looking. Despite their looks, vinegaroons are often kept as pets.
Drawing of a whip scorpion

1901 Drawing of a Vinegaroon; Order Thelyphonida

Vinegaroon Characteristics

A vinegaroon is fairly large in size, up to 6 inches (including its tail) and is often referred to as a “Giant Vinegaroon.” It has eight eyes, two in front and three on each side of its head, and eight legs – just like spiders do but it only uses 6 for walking; the other two legs are for sensory purposes, a sort of antennae. Vinegaroons are brown/black in color, with long whip tails that do not sting. The pinchers (pedipalps) on a vinagaroon are a part of the mouth; they´re quite strong and used for digging burrows. When a vinegroon feels threatened or is hunting prey, it sprays a combination of acetic and octanoic acids from glands located under the tail, at the rear of its abdomen.

Male Vinegaroon (whip scorpion) Mastigoproctus giganteus

Video of a Vinegaroon

Vinegaroon Habitat and Reproduction

Vinegaroons can be found in the south and southwestern states. Although their habitat is usually desert and scrublands, female vinegaroons prefer humid, dark places to create burrows such as under rotting wood, rocks, and/or leaf litter (the darker the better!). Once a female vinegaroon´s eggs hatch, the young climb onto her back. It takes about four years for vinegaroon babies to become full adults but they are able to fend for themselves shortly after their first molting. Vinegaroons can live about six to eight years which is one reason people sometimes keep them as pets.
female vinegaroon

Female Vinegaroon with Egg Sac.

Pest Status

These arachnids are not considered pests because they’re rare to see and they are both solitary and nocturnal; they hide out in burrows during the day and forage for food at night. Since vinegaroons are carnivorous, they feed on millipedes, bugs, and a variety of other insects, even their relatives – scorpions and spiders. And, because of their night time eating habits, vinegaroons can be beneficial in keeping roach and cricket populations down. Vinegaroons are not venomous and do not sting; however, the acetic acid they spray when bothered can irritate the eyes. Vinegaroons can pinch as well but their vinegar-like mist is their best defense in not only protecting themselves from predators but for stinging the eyes of their prey, thereby making the prey easier to catch. Spider Control Call or email us today at: 800-986-1006
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Texas A&M University. Department of Entomology. “Vinegaroon.” Retrieved from Online Wikipedia. “Thelyphonida.” Retrieved from Thelyphonida. Online San Diego Zoo. “Vinegaroon.” Retrieved from Online

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