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Giant Whipscorpion (Mastigoproctus giganteus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Whipscorpion

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The Giant Whipscorpion is not poisonous, but its arsenal of offensive and defensive weapons make it a creature best looked at and not touched.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Giant Whipscorpion looks somewhat like a typical scorpion, but with a narrow cord-like tail instead of thick curled segments. This major anatomical differentiation makes it easy to quickly distinguish a Whipscorpion from true scorpions. The Whipscorpion lacks a stinger, but swings its whip-like tail in an effort to communicate that it is about to defend itself.

Though it does not produce poison, it can secrete a stinky chemical made of acetic acid, the same chemical that comprises vinegar, from the base of the tail. This vinegar secretion can cause mild burns to insect predators (or prey) as well as skin irritation and nausea to humans. For this reason, this type of Whipscorpion is also called a Vinegaroon, and best not handled.

If these early warnings fail to convince a predator to move on, a Giant Whipscorpion will use its huge pedipalps ('claws') to pinch a would-be attacker. They can cause a good deal of pain when used on human victims, too. These strong, pincer-like pedipalps are also used to rip and tear apart prey, enabling the Giant Whipscorpion to easily consume body fluids. Males have longer claw segments than females. In addition, males have a chela, a small projection at the tip of each claw. Males use the chela to push a sperm packet into the female during mating. The female will carry her fertilized eggs externally until they hatch. Once out of their eggs, the young whipscorpions rest on their mother's back while they molt and develop.

Whipscorpions are difficult to find because they are mostly nocturnal. During the day, they hide under logs, stones or other debris, or they burrow into loose soil or sand. During summer months in wooded areas, they are more active and may be seen in daylight.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Harmful insect icon
Smelly insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Chelicerata
      Order: Uropygi
        Family: Vinegarones
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          Genus: Mastigoproctus
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            Species: giganteus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Mastigoproctus giganteus
Other Name(s): Vinegaroon, Grampus, Mule Killer
Category: Whipscorpion
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 80mm (0.78" to 3.14")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; brown
Descriptors: tail; whip; scorpion-like; claws; pincers; harmful; smelly; vinegar; acid

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 80mm (3.1in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 50mm
Hi: 80mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Giant Whipscorpion may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Giant Whipscorpion. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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