Parabuthus Venom Spraying

davidbarber1

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Jun 5, 2006
Messages
821
I know we touched on this subject in another thread, but, are there any published scientific papers on this matter. I have the books "Scorpions - Plus Other Popular Invertebrates" by Jerry G. Walls and "Scorpions - A Complete Owner's Manual" by Barron's. They both agree that the venom can be sprayed approx. 3 feet. What say ye?? Also, although there may be some slight inaccuracies in these publications, I suggest them to scorp newbies. Read the books, and if there are ANY questions, post away.

David
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 3, 2006
Messages
1,415
I know we touched on this subject in another thread, but, are there any published scientific papers on this matter. I have the books "Scorpions - Plus Other Popular Invertebrates" by Jerry G. Walls and "Scorpions - A Complete Owner's Manual" by Barron's. They both agree that the venom can be sprayed approx. 3 feet. What say ye?? Also, although there may be some slight inaccuracies in these publications, I suggest them to scorp newbies. Read the books, and if there are ANY questions, post away.

David
There are no publications regarding any species ability to vaporize.."spray" venom. This probable misconception most likely arises from the ability to flick (or better said, displace) venom from the acelus and other body parts at a target. This has been noted in Vaejovis, Parabuthus, Androctnous, Leiurus and probaly others as well.

Although you'd tend to want to beleive information in a book, without peer reviewed publication that information is very unreliable. The most likely case is the author(s) either intentionally or not, are not conveying the information properly.

As you can see from what I said... there is a big difference between being able to flick venom and being able to spray a fine mist at a target.

Hope that helps you understand this,
Ed
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 4, 2005
Messages
8,990
I've seen P. transvaalicus spray a stream of venom as well as Diplocentrus lindo. It's not a "spray" like some might be thinking but a very thin "stream" of venom pushed out under a moment of pressure. All I can do is say that I saw it and know some are still going to say "no" until they see it with their own eyes like I have. I understand that, I can be the same way once I get something in my head. So someone is going to have to eventually get vid of it and I'm confident somebody will eventually. Slow motion would be best. Being able to see it by putting the scorpion in a window with sunlight coming in would work at normal speed I think. I'd do it if I had a good vid camera. I expect to eventually have a vid camera so I'll get it on the net eventually unless somebody else does. It looks more like a panicky hit or miss squirt.
 

mkieff

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Jan 16, 2008
Messages
206
I have not witnessed it, but I also believe it is highly possible that some species have this ability. Look at snakes as an example. There are some of them that can spray their venom. There are also several species of frogs that can do the same thing.

Why do some think there is no way a scorpion could posses this ability? From what I have read, scorpions have the ability to control the amount of venom they inject when attacking. Why can't they also control it enough to deliver it without injecting?
 

Big Red TJ

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
320
I have not witnessed it, but I also believe it is highly possible that some species have this ability. Look at snakes as an example. There are some of them that can spray their venom. There are also several species of frogs that can do the same thing.

Why do some think there is no way a scorpion could posses this ability? From what I have read, scorpions have the ability to control the amount of venom they inject when attacking. Why can't they also control it enough to deliver it without injecting?
I agree just because said species has not exibited the trait in captivity doesn't mean they can't. My P.liosoma is not known too but why take the chance.;)
 

reverendsterlin

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 8, 2003
Messages
1,749
if you want it in book form spraying is written about in Scorpions of Southern Africa By Jonathan Leeming and was also published in Science in Africa - Africa's First On-Line Science Magazine same author. Research on Venom Expenditure by Scorpions, Loma Linda University, School of Science and Technology, Department of Earth and Biological Sciences, William K. Hayes, Laboratory of behavioral ecology and conservation is another article. Published in
1993 in The Journal of Arachnology 21 (Pp. 60-63), STING USE IN TWO SPECIES OF PARABUTHUS SCORPIONS (BUTHIDAE). Cushing, B. S. & A. Matherne. 1980. Stinger utilization and predation in the scorpion Paruroctonus boreus. Great Basin
Nat., 40:193-195. Dave Gaban and Major Stockwell have also written on the subject.
Rev
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 3, 2006
Messages
1,415
Although everyones observations are useful, the fact of the matter remains that it is a fairly undocumented claim. Although the known fact is Parabuthus (4 species in fact) have been documented to displace venom. This along with other genrea I stated (Vaejovis, Leirus, Androctnous, etc.) Although this observation is most noted in Parabuthus, it can likely be achieved by any and all scorpions.
It is not as if this is a new or absolutely untouched area of scorpion behaviour. It is simply that the majority of researchers agree upon the known data of it. (This includes individuals who study these animals extensively in the field, not just people like us who keep them for "fun") Because any ability to actually spray venom in a forcable stream at a defined target and not simply in the general direction of a target (which can be achieved easily by positioning the body correctly) is completely unsubstantiated by documentation, and indicates that the action is likely misunderstood by some. This does not mean it is not possible (although citing vertebrate is a poor choice for comparison), but at the moment any differentiating claims are far too preliminary to give any merit to.

This does not mean other inverts cannot "spray" fluids as a defense mechanism, because some can. But the majority of these animals are not closely related to scorpions. Although a true spider, Peucetia viridans, has been observed (and documented) in the field to forceably expel venom from their fangs. This however is also a very preliminary observation and noted within the publication is that "Before spitting, a female shifts her weight posteriorly, lunging slightly forward immediately before or during the release of venom", which may indicate the spider using natural forces (aside of forceable expulsion) to propel the venom. (In my opinion)


As I said, this does not mean that the phenomenon is not plausable. But due to the extensive time spent in the field by researchers and few objections to the scorpions KNOWN ability to displace venom, the matter will remain that it is very unlikely. There is also the fact that manipulation and stimuli of all kinds has failed to produce any data at all of this occurance. (This holds true with scorpions and the documented Peucetia) Although I am not a biologist (I have degrees in finance, so far from it) this would probably indicate there are no muscles capable of expelling venom under force in these scorpions.

Here is a picture of venom displaced onto googles worn by one of our fellow enthusiasts. You can see how the venom is randomly splattered around the glasses, not in a mist, but realitivly thick droplets. If the scorpion was able to in fact "spray" the venom, it would be likely the droplets would be much smaller in size and cover a much smaller area. The specimen which produced this was the species in question, Parabuthus transvaalicus.

This image is provided by and copyrighted by Rien Groeneweg.



 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 4, 2005
Messages
8,990
This thread inspired me to try it again. Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a thin, very fast short burst of venom can be squirted out. Though all I can do is take a picture of the venom on the side of the plastic. I will post the pic later. After what I just saw, I am very surprised it is not more widely documented, I've personally never have looked into any documentation. It is a squirt very similar to a Vinegarone. I just blew on the scorpion in a plastic box with a hole to blow in at the top.

I blew on the scorpion with a short burst in a plastic box with a hole to blow in at the top. All the white dots are from spray it shot out three different times. off topic .....finally getting some rain here ..YEAH!


Had to log off because of lightening. I've seen a lot of venom slinging too. Spraying being a defense by design is certainly debatable. From what I've seen, I think it is a natural defense. But if so it may be a little crude and work best with small animals. If you tap on the right or left side of a P. trans, they will "aim" their tail in that direction. Other than obviously aiming a sting in defense, it looks to me like a squirt in that aiming position might work well with a small animal. But I haven't seen them aim "and" squirt yet. It happens so fast, it's hard to see.


I experimented with it a little more. This pattern shown in red is pretty good evidence, IMO, that the scorpion squirted a stream or tight spray as it moved it's tail. And it wasn't too far off the direction of where source of the air blast was coming from. I hesitate to say this but, oh well, ...I've tasted the venom. It's definitely irritating to membranous tissue, like capsaicin in peppers. I think it would be painful in and around the wet nose of an animal, especially in the eyes like I've read somewhere. Sounds like a design to me.
 
Last edited:

skinheaddave

SkorpionSkin
Arachnosupporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2002
Messages
4,343
Although everyones observations are useful, the fact of the matter remains that it is a fairly undocumented claim.
You can add Newlands, G. 1974. The venom-squirting ability of Parabuthus scorpions (Arachnida: Buthidae). South African Journal of Medical Sciences 39(4): 175-78. to the list of documented cases in peer reviewed journals. That being said, I agree fully with you that insufficient study has been done as to the mechanism at play.

Because any ability to actually spray venom in a forcable stream at a defined target and not simply in the general direction of a target
I have yet to see any suggestion that a scorpion can "aim" beyond pointing in the general direction. I don't know that a lack of specific aim denigrates this as a form of defense, though. New world tarantulas can't flick hairs with pinpoint accuracy, but it is very well documented how effective that can be as a form of defense. Nor does lack of specific aim make the term "spray" less applicable if that should happen to be the actual delivery mechanism.

this would probably indicate there are no muscles capable of expelling venom under force in these scorpions.
First off, who is doing these tests and where is their methodology documented? I'd love to read up on this. Secondly, it may not be a matter of force but of finesse. In the milking of scorpion venom, some people prefer not to use electrical stimulus, as this can create a muscular contraction strong enough to eject some unwanted tissue along with the venom. So the muscles which compress the venom glands against the vesicle wall can definitely produce a fair bit of force. Consider, though, that it may be the type of muscular contraction that produces a spray as opposed to a standard injection of venom. Or perhaps the haemolymph pressure has something to do with it. Or perhaps it is only the lighter compounds (termed "prevenom" by some) that can be ejected and the formulation or distribution of venom compounds affects the outcome. I'm just spitballing here, but until I see these studies for myself and see what has been covered, I am unwilling to jump to such a bold conclusion as you.

If the scorpion was able to in fact "spray" the venom, it would be likely the droplets would be much smaller in size and cover a much smaller area.
To test this out, I grabbed a little spray bottle my wife uses to mist plants and tested it out on our kitchen window. By varying the amount of pressure I applied, the speed at which I applied it and the distance from the window, I created effects ranging from a fairly even distribution of smaller droplets to something similar to what is on the goggles. I couldn't create only very tiny droplets, though, due to the tendency of liquids to pool upon hitting a smooth surface.

I'm not saying that there is definitely a spray brought about by hydraulic pressure going on here. I'm simply suggesting that with the lack of available evidence and the variety of plausible mechanisms at play, it is a bit premature to be damning the whole spray thing.

Cheers,
Dave
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 3, 2006
Messages
1,415
Hi,

I was logging in to basically say exactly what you just did.

You cleaned up everything I want elaborate on to make certain nobody conveyed my post as me stating "this absolutely cannot and will not ever happen".

As you said, this (along with too many other systematic topics) are immensly neglected in the world of scholarly study in favor of taxonomy and other "more interesting" work.

As you know I'm still a rookie compared to some. I am glad there are knowledgable indivuals like yourself around, because without you guys there would be much less quality information flowing throughout the fourms.

As to not neglect your questions. The methods of manipulations if I recall correctly were not stated in the few publications I've read regarding the topic in arachnids. One would have to assume electro-stimulation and a lot of prodding. Also regarding my opinion of their being no secondary muscle to control the "spraying of venom".... thats why I said it was my opinion and that I have finance degrees. :p

The one thing I cannot agree with though is testing using a spray bottle. Unless the spray consisted of a simlar volume of liquid of that which is being expelled and also similar in density to that of the venom in question.
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 3, 2006
Messages
1,415
Hello Gala,

I'm sorry but it is my opinion only that your pictures further illustrate flicking of venom. Although the displacement is simlar to that on the glasses photographed by Rien, it needs be accounted the "attack" was at a much further range than the container walls. Again in my opinion, if the scorpion was at all able to actually "spray" the venom, it should be in a tighter bunch given the close proximity to where it landed.

The heavy collection of venom on the first tergate and the damp markings on the subsequent onrd lead (me) to believe my previous thoughts. Although the first picture could have been of value... all bursts following the first are seemingly useless as it is the pattern of first which needs to be looked at with a fine comb. What is shown there can easily be disseminated as venom being flicked as the metasoma is being throwing backwards wildly. This behaviour is noted in Androctnous as well as Parabuthus

I can absolutely not throw your observations under the rug though. I have merly read what I can regarding the topic and never witnessed it myself. The occurance would be extremly useful of video as human error may be dismissed through repeated view.
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 4, 2005
Messages
8,990
I understand. There should always be at least a tiny amount of doubt looking on the internet and viewing a couple of pics. I can't show you what I've seen over the internet with what I have now. Here are some more thoughts. Fresh sprays are a cleaner stream, maybe a tight, rough misty spray like in the first pic. But often, a drop is left on the tail so the spray gets caught up in the drop and so it gets sloppier. In the first pic, the scorpion's body flinched but there was no broad tail flicking and no drop collected on the aculeus even after 3 sprays which is usually not the case, it usually get fouled up with a drop the first time. What I've seen isn't evidence to anybody and shouldn't be so I'll try come up with more though I know it would take a slow motion vid in the end.
 

halendrix

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 26, 2007
Messages
29
i see... just want to ask another thing sir.. is there any effect when the venom spray of the P.transvaliicus had a contact in your skin?? lets say in your hands??
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 4, 2005
Messages
8,990
"Sir"? ..I know you're not talking to me but I'll answer anyway:D It doesn't do anything to my skin ..not the skin on my hands anyway. Sensitive skin, especially mucus membrane type of tissue is what you want to keep it away from, specifically the eyes from what I've read. It has an interesting smell.

OK I've been messing around with it some more. I've got something here. For one to accept they can at least squirt venom going by this pic, one would have to trust that I didn't fake anything. But I also know that most people here don't "really" know each other so I know some are going to wonder about that. This is real, I wouldn't fake it. This experiment looks a little stressful to the scorpion but she's OK, I think it was worth it. I taped her tail down. It's the same one that has been shooting in the other pics and I don't know how fast they can produce venom so I wondered if she was low before I started holding the scorpion down. I touched the telson on top, in relation to the tail and she sprayed. They hold more or at least make venom faster than I thought. It looks like it went pretty far but it was only 5 inches. The furthest droplet is right in front of my finger under the Plexiglass. The first spray was kind of short and messy. It was the second one that went the furthest, then a smaller thirs one and that was it.
 

skinheaddave

SkorpionSkin
Arachnosupporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2002
Messages
4,343
The one thing I cannot agree with though is testing using a spray bottle. Unless the spray consisted of a simlar volume of liquid of that which is being expelled and also similar in density to that of the venom in question.
So you're saying that in my circumstances there is a high degree of variability, but as soon as you scale down everything is perfectly uniform? The test was not meant to be a perfect analog to a scorpion vesicle, but merely a demonstration of the incredible variability of this sort of system. In other words, I question your prediction as to what a spray would look like on glass.

As to not having a methodology, that is unfortunate. Especially given the claim. It is very difficult to show with any certainty that things don't happen. You can never be 100% certain, of course, but if you test well enough you can strongly suggest that something is impossible. Without a methodology, the claims are fundamentally useless. If you still have those sources (which are?), it would pay to see if they are referenced and then chase the paper trail.

Cheers,
Dave
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 3, 2006
Messages
1,415
So you're saying that in my circumstances there is a high degree of variability, but as soon as you scale down everything is perfectly uniform? The test was not meant to be a perfect analog to a scorpion vesicle, but merely a demonstration of the incredible variability of this sort of system. In other words, I question your prediction as to what a spray would look like on glass.

As to not having a methodology, that is unfortunate. Especially given the claim. It is very difficult to show with any certainty that things don't happen. You can never be 100% certain, of course, but if you test well enough you can strongly suggest that something is impossible. Without a methodology, the claims are fundamentally useless. If you still have those sources (which are?), it would pay to see if they are referenced and then chase the paper trail.

Cheers,
Dave

Hi Dave,

I have to goto work so I have no time to respond in full. Considering the majority of claims say they are able to aersolize the venom. I for one would expect to see a pattern similar to what would come out of an aersol can, which would be a mist. (Unlike the droplets you are able to expel by regulating the presure on the trigger of your spray bottle).

I will get a hold of my contact and have him write an excert that I can share with you. It may take a couple weeks as his expeditions in the field are usually between 20-60 days in duration). I cannot vouch because I was not involved in them, but I know another hobbyiest has spoken extensivly with Lorenzo Prendini on the subject. As I said, I was not invovled in those conversations, so I do not know everything that was said, but the individual still shares the same opinion I do.

All I ask it is, out of what you are saying, what is your opinion and what is not?

I do my best to make everything that is my opinion clearly stated..this goes for what I am saying as well as things I am objecting to.
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 4, 2005
Messages
8,990
I just googled "aerosol" and "transvaalicus". I didn't expect to get any hits but I did. I didn't know there were such claims. I think that "aerosol" is only a bad description of the spray type, at least a type that would go 3 feet, though I did see 3 short bursts of a misty type of spray while the scorp was in the plastic box. It might have been a little coarse to call it an aerosol spray but close. That surprised me because before that, I've only seen a more stream-like spray. That would be a very interesting discovery if it were proven they could control the spray pattern, ...stream or mist-like. I can see droplets of a course stream-like spray going 3 feet but I don't know about an aerosol type of spray. I think she was pretty low on venom so I bet I can get further venom squirts if anybody is interested, if not, I don't think I'll try it again in the near future.
 
Last edited:

skinheaddave

SkorpionSkin
Arachnosupporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2002
Messages
4,343
Considering the majority of claims say they are able to aersolize the venom.
While you can get a lot of google hits from hobbyists, I have yet to see a claim in a peer reviewed journal that suggests other than "spraying," which to my mind doesn't suggest some sort of even aerosol spray. All that suggests to me is that the venom, or some subcomponent of the venom, is expelled from the aculeus under pressure (rather than via a flick or similar). If you look at other systems whereby some substance is expelled (spitting cobra, bombardier beetle, vinegaroon etc.) you don't see a fine, even mist. Even with the bombardier beetle -- which generates literally an explosive force when ejecting its chemicals -- you still see distinct streams of venom -- like a miniature "fine mist" showerhead rather than a paint can.

I know another hobbyiest has spoken extensivly with Lorenzo Prendini
I should have occasion to contact Lorenzo within the next couple weeks so I will perhaps bend his ear on the matter then.

All I ask it is, out of what you are saying, what is your opinion and what is not?
My opinion at the moment is that at least some Parabuthus are capable of expelling venom under pressure. There isn't exactly conclusive evidence that I've seen, but there are enough anecdotes, papers etc. to suggest that this is so. I would also suggest that the evidence you've presented so far (non-specific conversations and posts, studies without methodology and an unrealistic expectation of what such a spray would constitute) do not exactly put a firm doubt in my mind. I am also of the opinion that this would make for an interesting study which could be conducted in several ways (high-speed camera, immobilized specimens, electrophysiological readings etc.) but not until a proper literature search has been completed.

Cheers,
Dave
 

halendrix

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 26, 2007
Messages
29
i see.. thanks dude.. now i know.. did you have any experience on having an accident that your ptrans have sprayed in your eyes?? ;)
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 4, 2005
Messages
8,990
No:) ...but I think I let some get in my left eye that got on my finger. Just a little, no big deal. I did get close to getting nailed though as I taped her down. Getting any venom around my nose and mouth makes me sneeze a lot. By the way, I sure don't want to encourage anybody to try what I did, bad things can happen ...it's just me:eek:
 
Top