If You Live Here, Watch Out for These Acid-Spraying Bugs
These scorpion-like creatures have a scary defense system.
As if bugs aren't unsavory enough on their own, experts say there is one kind of arachnid that sprays acid when startled. The creature looks like a cross between a scorpion and a spider, but is in fact a breed all its own. These giant critters can be found in a handful of states in the U.S., as well as abroad, and you'll want to keep some distance thanks to their scary defense system. Read on to find out if these pinching, acid-spewing bugs are in your state.
The vinegaroon has been compared to scorpions and lobsters.
On July 14, Big Bend National Park shared a photo of a vinegaroon, an arachnid also known as a whip scorpion that had been found in the park the previous week. According to CBS News, these creatures also go by the name "land lobsters" thanks to the obvious resemblance to those crustaceans. Per the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the scorpion-like bugs can be found in Arizona, Florida, and Texas.
Vinegaroons can spray acid or pinch when they feel threatened.
According to the experts at Big Bend National Park, vinegaroons are "relatively benign unless you happen to annoy them." If you do annoy them, whether it on purpose or by accident, "they can pinch with their heavy mouthparts (pedipalps) and shoot a well-aimed spray of 85 percent acetic acid (vinegar) from the base of their 'whip' to protect themselves."
Experts are fascinated by this creature, noting that "if you're lucky enough to see one, look closely." But you should also be careful not to startle them, lest you get pinched or sprayed.
You're more likely to see a vinegaroon during a rainy season.
The approximately three-inch-long bug is most often seen following a rainstorm. Park officials wrote that "summer rains bring vinegaroons out of their burrows in search of food and love." According to the Conservation Society of California, they tend to hide "in burrows or beneath rocks and logs during the day, and hunt prey during the night." These creatures are most active during the rainy season, as they are pushed from their burrows, but they tend to remain underground when it's dry.
RELATED: For more bug content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Vinegaroons mostly eat other bugs.
Experts say that you're not the prey of a vinegaroon, even though they can attack when irritated or frightened. When it comes to what they're actually hunting for, these bugs most commonly munch on other ground dwellers. According to the Conservation Society of California, vinegaroons' diet largely consists of "slugs, worms, and insects such as crickets, termites, and cockroaches."