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The Vinegaroon (vin-uh-guh-roon) is a primitive arthropod, related to spiders. It's also
known as a Whip Scorpion, primarily because it resembles a scorpion and has a
whip-like tail (big surprise). Unlike a real scorpion it can't sting you and it's not
venomous. What it CAN do is spray you with acetic acid. Acetic acid
is the stuff that makes vinegar smell like, well, vinegar. Hence the name VINEGARoon.
The only way one of these things can do any damage is by pinching you with its
claws or by spraying its own gourmet brand of vinegar in your eyes.
Should you be deranged enough to get your face anywhere near one of these
beasties, and it manages to irrigate your eyeballs, you should
immediately flush them with water and see your physician. Unless you're
allergic to vinegar, you should
be just fine. In fact these guys actually make good pets. But they
do look scary as hell and they're BIG. A large adult can exceed 6 inches in
length. Not the sort of thing you want to suddenly encounter in the middle
of the night, even if it is harmless (more on that later).
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So what's all this about a Vinegaroon Moon?
You've probably heard of the Man in the Moon. You might have been told about the Bunny in the Moon. Well the sad truth of the matter is that you're all dupes of the establishment. There is no Man in the Moon. There is no cute wittul Bunny in the Moon. But there is, -you guessed it-, a Vinegaroon in the Moon. A great big friggin' cold-blooded, alien-insect-brained arthropod. Don't believe me? Just take a gander at the comparison below. How could it be anything else. Trust me, if there was ever a Bunny in the Moon, the bug ate it. So, you might ask, what does this imply? Well, frankly, nothing good, although I do consider it proof of a malevolent God. Either that or Lovecraft was just writing what he knew. All hail Cthulhu.
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OK, I believe you, Its a Vinegaroon. What can I do?
Not a lot. Unless your uncle is an Elder God (in which case we need to talk). What you CAN do is LEARN TO LOVE THE BUG. With that in mind I've included a number of Vinegaroon links and one or two Lovecraftian ones as well (just in case). Get to know it. Get one for a pet. Worship it. Or else...
|Know your Vinegaroon||Things Lovecraftian|
|Purchase your Very Own Nightmare||General Lunacy|
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Are you fixated on these things or what?
Well, since you ask, fixated is probably the wrong word. Traumatized is probably the right one. Remember what I said about "sudden encounters in the middle of night?" Well it went something like this:
I was returning from a Los Angeles gaming convention in a rickety old van full of gamers. We were headed back to Phoenix on the I-10 when, in the dead of night, somewhere in the California desert, the engine made a nasty sound and started to overheat. We managed to pull the van off onto an old dirt road just off the highway. By that time the van had filled with the smell of death. The engine's death that is. It was that nasty combination of steam mixed with exhaust and hot oil, that can only mean a cracked block. That wasn't our only problem. The van had stopped in a bad place, just on the far side of a hill. If anyone exited the highway onto that dirt road they and the van would become "one" in a spectacular and noisy fashion. The solution was to send someone back down the road to the other side of the hill to flag down any potential crashees with a flashlight. You guessed it, yours truly was elected.
I grabbed a flashlight and trudged off into the dark. I took up station at the base of the far side of the hill, just far enough off the road to avoid any sleep deprived drivers (which would be a unfortunate turn of events for the guys in the van, but hey, they were the bastards that voted to send me off into the desert...). Apart from mysterious rustlings and the occasional coyote howl it was pretty uneventful. That is until I decided to try and find out what was making the mysterious rustling noises... I spent several minutes shining my flashlight through the bushes. No joy, so I casually directed the light back onto the road right in front of me. And there it was. Big. At least as big as my hand. Lots of legs. Nasty big claws. And then it charged. This thing moved fast. Before I knew it the old lizard brain had sized up the situation and sent me hurtling to one side. I must of leapt six feet from a standing start, but the damn thing turned on a dime and chased after me. The lizard brain switched to plan B. "RUN AWAY!" So here I am running through the desert, pursued by a giant mystery bug. Totally undignified, but sometimes there's just no arguing with the lizard brain. Besides which it looked like a scorpion. Not the sort of thing you want running up your pant leg and cavorting about the family jewels.
Luckily I quickly found a steep boulder and scrambled up on top of it. At the same time it occurred to me that the thing was following the movement of my flashlight so I switched it off. Scrabble...scrabble. Scrabble. Scrabble...scrabble...scrabble. Then silence. Several minutes passed. I hadn't heard it moving around for a bit, but neither could I see it, and the lizard brain was whispering nasty things about flanking maneuvers. So I turned the flashlight back on. The bastard was waiting for me at the base of the boulder. And now he was excited again. But this time I got a good look him and at his distinctive whip-like tail. Suddenly I realized that, after living in the desert for 25 years, I'd finally had my first encounter with a whip scorpion. AKA the Vinegaroon. Harmless. Embarrassingly so. I chided my lizard brain and it stopped chittering dire warnings in my ear. Even with the lizard brain quelled I still had a pretty good adrenaline rush going so the flashlight was shaking in my hands...which gave me an idea. The critter was following the light so maybe I could lure him away from the boulder with the flashlight. I directed the light off to one side and shook it back and forth. Sure enough the bug trundled off in that direction. A minute later I had lured the ugly little bugger off into the desert. Then I shut off the flashlight and ran like hell the other way. There's just some things you don't want sharing your pants...
Years later I sat in a theatre watching the movie Tremors. It was the scene where our heroes and heroines are stuck on a boulder with the Graboids waiting for them below. I couldn't help thinking, "Been there. Done that."
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What do I do if I ever encounter a Vinegaroon?
Run like hell. Scream. Curse your fate. Pray it's not an envoy from Tsathogghua or his ilk. NOT. Just leave it alone. Observe it from a respectful distance. Don't kill it. It eats lots of other bugs, many of which are the variety you don't want around your garden or house. Don't handle it, especially if you're not sure whether you're sensitive or allergic to acetic or formic acid. Whatever you do, don't poke it (or you deserve to be pinched and sprayed) and don't put your face anywhere near it. Let it go on its merry bug-munching way. Besides, if I'm right about the Lovecraft angle, you DON'T want to piss one of the damn things off...
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㰡n id="copyright"> 2004 Daniel C. Carver
Where do Vinegaroons hide?
Usually underneath something.