Big Centipedes in Hawaii -- How to Survive Them
Centipedes Fight to the Finish
Big centipedes in Hawaii are a fact of life. That said, not many of us are born with the ability to casually pick them up. Some of us have nightmares about centipedes. Some of us have overcome our fears pretty well, but still don't want to get within ten feet of one.
My daughter, Priscilla, can kill a centipede with a butcher knife or scissors all by herself. She is an adult with children who are looking to her for protection -- if Daddy is at work -- when a centipede crawls into the livingroom. But if her husband, Daniel, is home she grabs the biggest knife she can find and hands it to him when one of these fast-slithering creatures from hell enters the family domain. Daniel then has the honor of hacking the thing in half. Then he cuts it in quarters.
Just the other night Priscilla and I were talking on the telephone. Her husband was at work. All of a sudden, Priscilla screamed. I could hear her panic and fast breathing plus muted words and sounds for about two minutes. "Priscilla, Priscilla?" I said. I had heard her say the word centipede so I knew it wasn't a human intruder, but a centipede situation. Finally she came back on the line. She said there had been a centipede in the kitchen. She hadn't seen it and had accidentally stepped on it but luckily got her foot free before the thing attacked. She grabbed the kitchen tongs and picked the creature up, got it outside and hacked it up. (I am glad she took it outside to do this -- this time -- because recently I heard that the scent of a cut up centipede brings more centipedes to the area.)
Centipedes don't stop moving just because you cut them up. They fight to the end. They look like they are coming to get you! That's because they are coming to get you! Their pinchers are still pinching for several minutes after the body is lying in pieces, writhing on the floor. Daniel has pestered a sliced-up centipede after the execution and by poking a pencil at the pinchers has found that a centipede can keep up the attack mode for six minutes after being sliced into four pieces. This is information that, hopefully, you will never need. And as I mentioned, my daughter is capable of carrying out the execution on a centipede herself. She does not back away (or stand on the table and scream for help) if her husband is not home when the centipede is discovered in their condo. She says it actually gives her a feeling of confidence to know that she is now capable of doing this herself whenever necessary. I will never know that feeling of confidence, but that's okay.
More UnSettling Centipede Stuff
Why not just stomp on the centipede, you ask? That rarely kills one unless you are very heavy. They are made of steel armor. They are built to last. (I guess that's why everyone has the Maui Built stickers on their vehicles here.) These tropical centipedes are big and strong. Some of them grow to be 12 inches long and almost one inch in width.
Centipedes eat insects, other centipedes and even small animals. They detect their prey through their antennae and they paralyze their prey with their venom so they can dine more easily.
Centipedes like to hide under cement. I know how they get into one's livingroom when it seems impossible for them to do it. A friend of mine told me this: When it rains, they get themselves under the sliding patio door when it is opened for a minute or less. Then when they are good and ready, maybe that night or the next day, they climb off the bottom of the sliding door into the living quarters; yes, to wreak havoc. They love to do that. They figure if they have to leave this world, they may as well go out party-style.
I used to say if we ever find a centipede in our living area, that will be it; we have got to leave these islands. But when I see my brave little grandchildren taking these creatures in their stride and being able to fall asleep at night when they have just finished witnessing the execution of a translucent, 10-inch centipede -- I think to myself, I've got to regain my perspective. Centipedes can't hurt me. (Yes, they can.) They were here first. (So what?) I love living near my family and I'm not going to let the centipedes be a deterrent. I'm bigger than them. (Okay.) So goes the internal battle when I see one lurking around my yard.
Posting these photos for you has taken about all the courage I can muster for today. I had thought, too -- before today -- of doing an article on the huge B52 Bomber species of cockroaches here or the horribly big and thick-legged cane spiders, but no. This posting experience has been sufficient. I will leave those species to braver hubbers than I.
Hawaii doesn't always seem like paradise when you live here. Sure, if you stay in the hotels or condos that are specifically for vacationers, you are pretty safe. I've never heard of anyone encountering centipedes or other nightmare material in their living quarters while vacationing here. The vacation properties are maintained to be bug-free. But out in the real world of the Hawaiian Islands, not all of us can afford monthly sprayings of our yards and homes -- and others of us don't want to live with the consequences of breathing and touching pesticide on a daily and continuous basis.
Some days I feel like I'm a hero just to have survived another day in 'paradise'.
© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W