Subject: What is this Bug?
Location: Mt. Yaedake, Okinawa, Japan
January 30, 2014 5:33 pm
We live in Okinawa, Japan. And were out viewing cherry blossoms yesterday, Jan. 30, 2014 when we came upon this critter by some vending machines. Our internet searches have not turned up an answer as to what it is. It seems to be part spider, part crab, and part scorpion. When nudged, it lifted up it’s abdomen like a scorpion would. We took a photo, and then left it alone.
Thank you for you help.
Signature: Perplexed in Okinawa
Dear Perplexed in Okinawa,
This is a Whipscorpion, and prior to your letter, we did not realize they could be found in Japan. We found information on the Western Austranian Museum website that there are two species in the genus Typopeltis that are found in Japan. Whipscorpions are Arachnids like Spiders and Scorpion, but unlike Spiders and Scorpions, they have no venom. The threat posture you witnessed might have been in preparation for discharging a mild acetic acid which is a defense mechanism, hence the common name Vinegaroon. It is unclear to us why it is pictured on the Invasive Species of Japan website as indications are that it is native. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: “Whip scorpions are most common from India and Japan to New Guinea, although two genera occur in the New World.”
Thank you so much for your reply! We felt we had exhausted our internet searches, but we were looking for an “Okinawa” bug and putting that in our search was obviously hindering our results. We are so excited to have our little mystery solved. Glad to know that they have no venom, although we did not want to get close enough to test that out.