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Scolependra subspinipes

September 3, 2009

A coworker of mine was bitten by a centipede .  Evidently it somehow crawled  into his shirt and bit him three times as he was working in his garage.   Here is a picture of the damage:

William's centipede bites

William's centipede bites

I also know a guy who had a centipede in his shoe, but did not realize the beast was there until hours of walking around with a dull pain in his foot and then finally noticing something crunchy between his toes (a similar incident occurred with me and a brown anole, but that’s another story).

The business end of Scolependra subspinipes

According to Nishida and Tenorio (1993), there are at least 25 species of centipedes in Hawaii, among which several are native.  The large centipede, Scolependra subspinipes (the one that bit my coworker), is probably the one that most people in Hawaii are familiar with.  It is not a Hawaiian native, but has been around since about 1836 (Scott and Thomas 2000).  I suppose it is debatable whether they are good or bad from a human perspective since they eat roaches, but being big, venomous, and full of legs makes them public enemy number one to most people.  The first pair of legs is modified for predation and is capable of injecting venom.  When someone is “bitten” by a centipede they have actually been punctured by these sharp, poisonous appendages.  If you’re a skilled (and sadistic) bug wrangler, you can clip these legs and then handle the ‘pede without the risk of being bitten.  I’d like to to try this sometime, but it actually seems kind of cruel, so I probably never will…no matter how much I want to impress my friends and neighbors.

Close up dorsal view of the head.

scolependra head bottom 01


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