Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I liked it better when I didn’t know they could climb up things

Found this climbing up the bedroom wall in the middle of the night:


According to our Peace Corps Medical Manual:

“Centipedes are another unpleasant type of insect found in Samoa. They are not to be confused with millipedes, which they resemble, except that millipedes are harmless. Millipedes have many smaller legs than centipedes, usually can’t move as fast and curl up when touched. Centipedes have sharp ‘fangs’ and can inject a very painful toxin. They also just seem to like to bite us for no apparent reason, often crawling into bed with us at night while we’re sleeping and wrenching us into wakefulness with their painful bites.

It is advisable especially during the rainy season to shake out your bed linen at night before retiring and to shake out shoes and clothing before putting them on. Centipede bits are not fatal but they are painful. Remove rings and bracelets immediately if bitten on arm or hand. Take a Benadryl tablet and ‘hang tough’ until the pain subsides. Ice may also be applied to the area that was bitten. The area may remain tender for several days but the severe swelling usually dissipates in 24-36 hours.”

The Wikipedia entry on centipedes is less than exciting, reads like it was written for a technical biology or since textbook. If you are interested, you can see it here. The article does mention:

“A key trait uniting this group is a pair of poison claws or forcipules formed from a modified first appendage. This also means that centipedes are an exclusively predatory taxa, which is uncommon…

…Scolopendra gigantea, also known as the Amazonian giant centipede, is the largest existing species of centipede in the world, reaching over 30 cm (12 inches) in length. It is known to eat bats, catching them in midflight, as well as rodents and spiders.”

Centipede in peat marshlands of Kawai Nui, O'ahu, Hawai'i photographed by Eric Guinther and released under the GNU Free Documentation License for use at Wikipedia.

— Sara


Barb Carusillo said...

On just about every blog I have read from PCV, there has been a description of a centipede bite. I think that the warnings they give you are certainly justified. These things seem to live just to be malicious! Since spiders strike such horrer in your little sister, I wonder what she would think of centipedes? Hope she doesn't read this installment, she may not want to come visit you!

annette said...

i can see why you want extra sleepytime tea, sara!!! who could sleep with that!