Thursday, January 17, 2008

Entry repost: Wendell's Greatest Enemy

Howdy, critter fans!

I hope you're all doing well! If you're in my neck of the woods, it's going to be a chilly-ass weekend!

In baby fish news, Babykin the fry has not been spotted for several days! But, several tinier fish are in residence. R tried to comfort me, saying, "we've found some fry, and now more and more babies will be born." Our aquarium has many good hiding spots; hopefully the babies will hide and not be eaten!

Since I can't think of anything to write about, and y'all need some entertainment for the weekend, I'm doing my first repost. This is one of my favorite entries from my old blog, originally posted on 2/19/2005. If you haven't already read it, enjoy! Or perhaps you've...forgotten. Hopefully some of these insects don't decide to come and snuggle with you in the frigid temperatures!

Faint of heart, beware! For this writeup on the Critter Corner page is indeed the most horrifying of all creatures for Wendell: The Centipede!

Just Google the word centipede and terrible photographs of this insect will pop up, inspiring yelps of fear and spine tinglies!

See, here is a picture now!


I will not classify the centipede in the "Bad-Ass Animal" category...although people in the tropics might!

Ok, the way to get past fear is through education. (Incidentally, centipedes are some of the least-studied arthropods. Probably because the constant yelps of fear from centipede researchers distracted the other scientists.)

The super-class Myriopoda also includes millipedes (which are more worm-like to me and less scary; also I haven't seen them in my house), indoor and outdoor centipedes. There are about 3,000 species of class Chilopoda (centipedes) throughout the world, most commonly found in moist, warm areas. Most centipedes dwell outdoors under rocks and logs, and are fairly small.

The body of the centipede consists of 15 to 177 segments, each having a pair of legs. Apparently legs that are cut off can regenerate. The first pair of legs are modified into pincers, from which venom is expelled. Centipedes breathe through holes called spiracles, positioned along the body.

Centipedes are carnivores, using poison to kill their prey. For dinner, centipedes prefer other insects, earthworms, slugs and spiders. In Trinidad they also kill mice and small lizards!

Thankfully North American centipedes are small enough only to inflict a painful bite. Attacks of "Scolopendra gigantea" have resulted in one reported death in the Phillippines. Scolopendra species can get as large as 26 cm! (And to think JB lived in that country for the last year and a half!)


Centipedes can live up to six years! (That's a lot of time to hold a grudge against, say, me!) The life cycle starts as (60 or so) eggs which are fertilized inside the female. She then digs a hole and lays the eggs there. Some species stay and guard the eggs/young. The growth stage is extended, with larvae that molt their skin, gradually grow and develop more and more legs.

Enemies of the centipede include Wendell, shrews, birds and toads. "Ew, gross!" tidbit: some people eat centipedes?!

Two other tidbits: centipedes actually are helpful when indoors? (Because they eat other insects) and, there is a species of glow-in-the-dark ones! (Geophilus electricus) I think they live in western Europe?

The common house centipede (Scutigera forceps) has been an enemy of mine since childhood. My family lives in a house with an unfinished basement, which is good because we burn wood for heat. Hence there are great stacks of wood, loose bark and dirt down there. (Which of course gets cleaned up.) As kids we'd have to throw in the wood, and worse, stack it. So that was always scary because centipedes were down there. And your Kleenex (tm) would be filled with brown snot afterwards.

But the centipedes would mostly hang out in the bathroom. Upon seeing one, my sisters and I would flee, screaming. Then my Dad would go in and invariably come out with a tissue, with which he would lunge at us or pretend to throw at us! "Come see the big centipede," he would laugh! (Ah, happy memories.)

The fun continued in college when I received a note from my Dad. (He is a great Dad but not the best correspondent.) guessed it, (or maybe not?) it contained a dead centipede taped to a hand-written note that read, "Thinking of you, Love D."
No money, just a dead arthropod.

Here in MN centipedes would attack in my upstairs apartment. One website I just went to claimed that centipedes do not travel in sink drains. I better dispel that lie PRONTO! Once I was sitting on the toilet during a spring rainstorm, when not one but TWO centipedes came RUNNING out of the f*cking bathtub drain! It was a bad night.

Now that I've moved from squishing centipedes with random household objects to the more sophisticated chemical warfare, things have gotten better. In fact, I recently used my giant can of "Raid" to spray a small centipede on my apartment stairwell wall. It was late at night, and I thought, well, I could let this guy live. But then I thought about the half-inch gap under my apartment's back door and I realized D [2008 note: my roommate at the time] and I could be easy targets for the beast-in-training! Hence I killed it.

There are centipedes in R's basement as well. [2008 Note: R was my boyf at the time and had a basement/media room at his house.] He doesn't seem as concerned about them as myself. In fact, one of his techniques, and a non-recommended way to kill a centipede, is by trying to burn it with a lighter while it is on the wall. Thankfully no arson occurred, but even worse, the centipede ran off!

No doubt to stew and plan revenge for up to six years!


I might have centipede nightmares tonight,

1 comment:

Johnnybreakbeat said...

I don't know how i came across this blog entry, but i wanted to let you know that i have these fuckers in boston, too. just like the one in the picture.

I am NOT a squeemish guy, but seeing these things makes me want to vomit.

have a swell day.