What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Scorpion like bug in New Mexico
Attached is a photo of a rather large and intimidating “bug”. It has claws like a scorpion, but not the curved tail with the stinger. Instead it has that long thin wiry tail. The tail actually looks like a long piece of wire of stiff hair. Can you tell us what it is? Is it poisonous or harmful to humans? Does it eat other insects? Thanks.
Monte and Mary Kern

Hi Monte and Mary,
This is a harmless Whipscorpion, Mastigoproctus giganteus, also called a Giant Vinegaroon or Grampus. Legend has it that the bite of a Vinegaroon will cause the person to taste vinegar for weeks. Though this is untrue, BugGuide notes that “Although its tail in unable to sting, this creature can spray an acidic mist from a scent gland at the base of the tail when disturbed. The spray is 85% concentrated acetic acid/vinegar, hence the common name “Vinegaroon.” The heavy pinching mouthparts (modified pedipalps) can also inflict a painful bite. Although very unlikely to attack humans, it can certainly defend itself if provoked.” The Vinegaroon is a nocturnal predator with poor eyesight. It feeds on insects, other arthropods, and also, probably, small vertebrates like lizards.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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26 Responses to Giant Vinegaroon

  1. kodiyaps says:


    While camping at Caballo Lake State Park near Hatch, NM my family and I came across the biggest and scariest insect that we have ever seen! It was dead (thank heavens) and looked to have floated up onto the shore of the lake. We examined it for a long time and could hardly wait to get back home so that we could find out what it was. Thanks to you and your wonderful blog we have the answer! Our crazy critter was a Whipscorpion. Although I get chills just thinking about it, I am grateful for the discovery because it makes the occasional house roach a bit less disturbing knowing that there are much more intimidating insects, like this one, out in the desert!

    Thanks again for the work that goes into publishing your blog. We’ll be back!

    The Yap Family
    Las Cruces, NM

  2. gilberto says:

    this things are all over my backyard

  3. Debbie says:

    Years ago in New Orleans, a bug crawled into our hous. It was large and looked almost like rubber. The reason that I knew that it was not a toy was that it was still moving. It was about 4 inches long and reminded me of a vinegaroon (I am from New Mexico) but it had no whip tail. It had large pincers and was a dull grey. I gave it to the exterminator and he said he had never seen anything like it and could not identify it. Have you got any ideas?

  4. S. Nuzum says:

    I have seen a few here in Nevada, but they are light brown in color and shine, almost look wet. I have been told they are the larva of the owl moth, is that true?

  5. Teddy says:

    I’m from Washington State and was stationed at Holloman AFB New Mexico when I was in the Air Force. I found one in my lower kitchen cabinet when I was putting dishes away one evening…Scared me to death, didn’t know what it was… My husband swept it out of the cabinet and killed it with a broom… The house smelled of vinegar brine for several days!

  6. Sandra says:

    15 years ago saw one in my kitchen just walking around taking its time. My daughter, 16. yrs old, felt sorry for it. Put it in a jar, took it to her high school science teacher, who identified it. They took it outside & released it. Yucca Valley, CA, 35 miles north of Palm Springs.

  7. CHARLOTTE says:


    • bugman says:

      Though we have not received any documentation of Vinegaroons feeding on Scorpions, we suspect that if a Vinegaroon and a Scorpion encountered one another, the Vinegaroon would be the victor more often.

  8. joey t says:

    I live in casa grande az and I have a nest somwhere under my house there only geting about 2 in long but I don’t know how to get rid of them any ideas there vinegaroons and I have a new born and a 6 year old daughter and I don’t trust them please help

  9. Rodolfo says:

    Are these in the pet trade?

  10. Mike says:

    Just photographed one of these in central China.

  11. Kenny says:

    I have a pic of a 4 to 5 inch vinegaroon that I just saw on my outside house wall and would like to share.. I live in Silver City, New Mexico

  12. Cindi says:

    thanks for the information. There is one now dead on our front porch in Alamogordo, NM but now know to just redirect them from our door! We also have a spotted egg on our rock in our courtyard that we have been watching for over a week. Believe if it had fallen out of a nest it would have broken. Thinking Quail

  13. Cindi says:

    Loved finding this site! Many years since I received my biology degree but I still respect our environment.

  14. Richard New says:

    8/15/2015 I live in Gainesville Ga and at 10:30pm my wife saw one walking across the floor. My children and I was going to try to catch it. But my wife didn’t let us. When we flushed it out it came out her way snd she murdered it. I put it into a s sandwich bag and put it in the freezer to find out what it was. Now I have Thank you. We can put it to rest.

  15. Nick says:

    My 2 mini doxies just flushed one from a corner of our living room in Silver City, NM and apparently got sprayed, since they were sneezing and shaking their heads! I captured it in good condition and returned it to the wild.

  16. dawn boykin says:

    My boyfriend in Bisbee, AZ caught one outside in a jar alive and sent it home with me to show my 18 yr old daughter what one was alive. We are from WA and never saw one before and we are completely fascinated. We decided to name it Kevin and mad a nice tank for it. It eats crickets, grasshoppers, mantis, lizard, roaches, and whatever we put in the tank. We also spray the tank and keep it moist. Kevin sure does like to dig and rearrange the tank. He is awesome!!

  17. mike says:

    a vinegaroon CAN HURT YOU ! stay clear of them

  18. Years again I lived the high Desert, CA. Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. They resembled the scorpion, with one difference, they were opal almost see through. They said it was also a Vinagerette. They hid in the dark places of our garage. I never touched it and was not threatening me? These also have the bite of vinegar for 2 week’s. Just a little smaller, I saw bigger ones.

  19. No Vinga
    rette, Cant seem to spell it right

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