Monday, September 28, 2009

Say 'Hello' to my creepy segmented friend.

So, Barry, his brother Brian, and I decided to spend our Saturday tooling around the Wai'anae coast. For those of you who aren't familiar with Hawai'i, the Wai'anae coast extends west of Pearl Harbor up to Kaena point, shown in the map on the right in orange. It's drier than most of the island, which leads to less polluted runoff, making the water there spectacular.

So we had a nice day. We played at the beach. We laid out in the sun. And, we decided to play some football on a nice stretch of green near one of the Ko Olina lagoons. Here's some action footage that I thought was just amazing:

While caught up in our game, however, I felt what seemed like a gentle tickling across my foot - maybe a blown leaf or something. You can imagine my horror when I look down to see this crawling on my toes:

In general, Hawai'i is truly wonderful because, unlike most tropical destinations, we have a shocking low number of things with venom or teeth that can give you any kind of painful wounds... at least on land. There are a couple spiders, supposedly some scorpions, though rarely does anyone seem to see them, and no snakes or large predators. Of course, we do have centipedes.

Centipedes are some of the lesser talked about arthropods, though instantly recognizable by their long, segmented bodies which carry a large number of legs. Yes, they can have up to 177 legs, so the name fits. But it's not the legs that freak me out- it's their nice, large pincers. See for yourself (look just below the smiling face):

Centipedes are venomous and their bites, though not fatal, can be nasty. They can leave welts the size of a baseball and really, really, REALLY hurt. Lucky for me, when I jumped and kicked this lovely one off of me, it didn't take the time to turn around and bite me for it. It did, however, book it out of there. You can see how fast they can be in this short video I caught of it running, though it wasn't going full speed at this point:

Needless to say, I was ready to quit playing football at that point... just the thought of another one lying around kinda creeped me out.


Carina said...

Let me introduce you to our pet centipede "Mr Bitey". http://tobob.com/200908/our-family-g... We are in Western Australia, and my kids like to bring home pets. Mr Bitey lived with us for three very long weeks, until I started having nightmares that he had escaped and was hiding in the kids' beds. Then he went back to the farm where he is living happily. I assume. And I have learned a very valuable lesson about being a biologist and mother. There are limits to the pets.