Currently viewing the category: "Scorpions, Whipscorpions and Vinegaroons"

Hi Bugman-
In 1980, I lived in Sausalito, California. One night as I watched theevening news a fairly large creature crawled across my kitchen floor. It was dark, jointed, I believe it had what appeared to be pinchers, and I swear it hissed at me when I swept it out onto the deck. The Giant Vinegaroon looks very much like what I remember. My question is are they found in the San Francisco Bay Area?
Phil Nast

Dear Phil,
24 years is a long time to wait for an answer. The Vinegaroon or Giant Whip Scorpion, Mastigoproctus giganteus, is listed as ranging in the South and SouthWest. I would say it is entirely possible that one could have been in Sausalito, especially since they are often kept as pets and pets escape. This is one of the ways that natural ranges are extended to include new locations with hospitable climates. I have gotten reports of tarantulas and scorpions hissing, and it is possible that the Vinegaroon can also stridulate, defined as the rubbing together of body parts which produces a hissing type sound. Hope that answers your questions.

Thanks for the answer. I have searched insect books over those 24 years without much luck. I saw many tarantulas in Southern California, but the scorpions I saw were all small. I remember this being 3-4 inches, of course time and my horror might have added to its length.

Hi Phil,
Our sources state that the Giant Vinegaroon can reach five inches in length, so yours was a small one.

We have seen this big nasty bug around and IN our house. It is about 3-4 inches long, not including the stinger (have also seen one that was maybe 1.5 inches). It looks similar to the stag bug that "Freaked Out in Mass" asked about last week…has the same pinchers in the front and the same body type, but the ones here are a lot bigger, black, have a bigger butt and a long needle-type stinger out the back thats about 2-3 inches long. They put off some really nasty smelling stuff when threatened (and when squashed of course) and someone around here told my husband they are a vinegar-something-or-another bug and not poisonous. We are in west Texas. I think it is probably some type of beetle (makes a very loud crunch when you squash it). Most of the ones I have seen have not looked aggressive, except for the little one we saw…it had its stinger up and was running towards my 2 year old daughter outside. They look horrible and freak me out!!! I have found 3 in my house and I have 3 small children. What is this thing, how harmful is it, and how do I keep it out of my house?! Thank you Bugman!!!
Big Nasty Bug Hater

Dear Big Bug Hater,
Might be a whip scorpion, not a true scorpion and actually quite harmless. They are also called vinegaroons.

We live in the hills in Los Angeles, and were recently visited by – what we discovered on your site to be – wind scorpions or sun spiders. However, last week we discovered a NEW and more FRIGHTEINING scorpion in a bedroom, and yet another today on our back patio. Would this be a WIND scorpion? It has a tail with a little stinger on it, as well as little claws on its front legs. It’s really creepy looking. Also, is it poisonous and does its sting contain venom? Or would it just simply "sting." I’ve attached a photo for your viewing pleasure! Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciate. Thanks!

It appears to be a Striped Tailed Scorpion, Paruroctonus silvestrii, which has venom like all scorpions, and will sting readily, but will do no lasting harm. There are four conspicuous dark brown lines on the underside of the tail, which is unfortunately not visible in your photo.

Austin, Texas
We live in an older house – it was empty several years so we have all kinds of bugs which we try to keep out of the house! Our worse invader is the scorpian after my husband was stung. But we also have a horrible time keeping the katydids out of the house. They come out at night and get on us – after the scorpian sting scares you to death. We kill probably 10 a night – between the 3 bedrooms. Even though they have been harmless I do not want them in the house – can you tell me how to get rid of them? Thanks!

Are you sure they are katydids? which are green and look like grasshoppers. I’m suspecting you have crickets, a common prey of scorpions. Bugs get into the house. Perhaps you should have a contractor find out where all the points of entry are and seal up the foundation.

I have heard of these vinegar runes that when they bite you everything tastes like vinegar for a month do they exist?

Vinegaroons, or whip scorpions, are venomless arachnids that release an acetic acid substance when molested. This is the same type of acid as vinegar, hence the name. They do not bite, so please quit spreading this silly vicious rumor about a harmless, though somewhat frightening looking relative of spiders and scorpions.

Mr. Marlos,
I’ve got another one for you!
I had been sitting diligently at my computer, waiting for the last few seconds of an ebay auction in order to snipe the competition, when I caught this creature making his way into a closet. The room was dark, and against my beige carpet, I actually thought it was a silverfish (it’s legs and tail blended in). Had I known, I wouldn’t’ve stepped on it, wearing only socks!
When the little bastard zipped across the carpet, I knew it was time for the bug glass. This is the sixth scorpion I’ve caught in 3 summers, and the smallest, so far. I’d say the dark part of the body is about 3/4 of an inch long.
Do you have any idea how much of a zinger these things wield? Sooner or later one of them is going to get me!

Hey Chris,
Directly from the pages of Hogue:
"None of our indigenous scorpions is considered dangerous, although any may inflict a wound that is temporarily painful. However, there is a potentially lethal species (Dentruroides exilicauda) in southern Arizona and portions of the neighboring states. In Arizona, during a twenty year period, C. exilicauda has been responsible for the majority of the deaths due to venomous creatures, many more than rattlesnakes and all other types put together. The species has turned up in recent years in parts of Orange County, it has been particularly common in Irvine, where it poses a health hazard.
The stings of our scorpions usually cause only a local reaction similar to that of a bee sting, consisting of pain and a burning sensation, with swelling that lasts from a few minutes to over an hour. First-aid treatment involves immersing the affected area in ice water or applying an ice pack. If symptoms persist, a physician should be consulted."
p. 358