When I was a kid there was an episode of Gunsmoke which opened with Marshall Matt Dillon describing how a law-breaker would be squashed like a vinegaroon under the boot of the law! I had no idea what one looked like back then; I just thought it was a funny word. Ever wonder what a vinegaroon looks like? This is one.

The vinegaroon, (Mastigoproctus giganteus), is a primitive arthropod (invertebrate with an exoskeleton) which is related to the spider. It is an arachnid, an eight joint-legged invertebrate, not an insect.

Its common name derives from the vinegar smelling spray of acetic acid it releases when feeling threatened. The Latin name derives from the Greek mastigo meaning whip and its appearance is sort of scorpion-like, which is why its other common name is the whip scorpion.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department   has a  field notes PDF with more information about vinegaroons. Search for it on their site.

Adults can get to six inches long and though rather scary, visually speaking, all they could possibly do is pinch or perhaps spray you with their vinegar-like defense of acetic acid. They do not sting nor are they venomous.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

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