What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bug in China
Location: Wuhan, Hubei, China
April 27, 2014 3:36 pm
During our visits with family in Wuhan China, we came across this interesting bug. We’ve tried to figure out what it is, but have had little luck identifying it. We saw it in April in Wuhan China, on some stairs, with foliage near by. We almost stepped on it, and it reared up with it’s pincers.
Just curious what it is, everyone in China just told us to stay a way, it’s not a good bug.
Please enlighten us if possible.
Signature: Kathryn

Whipscorpion

Whipscorpion

Dear Kathryn,
You have had an encounter with a Whipscorpion in the Arachnid order Uropygi, and while we hesitate to say it is perfectly harmless, you really don’t have too much to fear as they are generally shy, nocturnal hunters.  Unlike true Scorpions with venomous stings, Whipscorpions lack venom, however, they do have a rather unique means of defense.  According to an online article we found on SpringerLink, several genera from North America and East Asia:  “are known to use acetic acid and caprylic acid as a defense mechanism.”  This weak acetic acid, a component in vinegar, has led to the common name of Vinegaroon in North America.  Whipscorpions also have powerful mandibles, and they might bite if carelessly handled.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Wuhan, Hubei, China

2 Responses to Whipscorpion from China

  1. When I was a kid in the Mojave desert of California back in the 50s, I was told that if you were bitten by a vinegaroon, everything would taste like vinegar for six months. I don’t remember being afraid of ’em, but they’re certainly alarming looking, even for bug lovers.

    Thomas Eisner’s memoir of a life in entomology, For the Love of Insects, has a chapter on vinegaroons. Eisner was the great mavin on the chemical defenses used by insects and other terrestrial arthropods—he was also a wonderful writer.

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