Subject: Stephen King bug
Location: Albuquerque, NM
July 9, 2013 7:37 am
I was watering plants in my backyard (Albuquerque, NM) this morning (6:45 AM, July 9, 2013), and was startled to see this really scary looking insect sitting on my patio. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I was thinking it was a bug I saw flying from a Vitex bush, but looking at the pictures I took, this one doesn’t seem to have wings. It was about 3 inches long, plus it had a really long antenna looking tail, which was at least 2 inches long.
Thanks for your help.
Considering you thought this Giant Vinegaroon or Whipscorpion, Mastigoproctus giganteus, was scary, you have taken amazingly wonderful photographs, and from so many angles. Giant Vinegaroons lack venom and they are considered harmless, but it is possible they might bite if carelessly handled. They can also spray a weak solution of acetic acid, hence the common name Vinegaroon. They are formidable predators and they will help rid your area of cockroaches and other undesirable arthropods.
According to BugGuide: “The vinegaroon is nocturnal and has poor vision. The whiplike tail is used as a sensory organ, as is the first pair of legs, which is not used for walking. 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.”
Thanks for the quick response. I’ve lived in NM for over 30 years and have heard of Vinegaroons, but have never seen one. Wow, what an impressive bug. I have many lizards in my yard so that’s probably the attraction. As far as the photos go, two words: zoom lens!
Thanks for your help. Your website is great!