Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is...House Centipedes

Preface: This is possibly the strangest post I've ever done, but you guys asked for it. Like, literally, a bunch of you asked for it. So here you go:

(Click for stunning detail)

In Monday's post, I mentioned the inception of House Centipede Awareness Month, and my dad's timely lectures about the benefits of these CREEPY DISGUSTING HORRIFYING CREATURES...er, I mean, beautiful helpful multi-legged children of god.

Almost immediately, the comments section and my inbox filled with queries from former house centipede haters seeking enlightenment, so I had my dad transcribe his informational lecture, which, toward the end, curiously morphs into a stirring FDR-style proclamation. Per Kendall's request, I am not posting a picture of the offending adorable arthropods, but you can see one here if you'd like.

And now, without further ado, I'd like to introduce Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

The house centipede is an amazing little predator that should garner more respect for its positive attributes than its perceived negative ones. When you see a house centipede in your dwelling you will not see as many cockroaches, silverfish, ants or spiders. They are active ferocious hunters of other arthropods with no desire to confront humans or, in smaller centipedes, even the ability to break the skin if you were to unintentionally trap one next to it.

While the bigger ones may be able to pinch or bite to some effect, the "intent" of the creature is to effect escape, not any sort of malice. The descriptions I have read of centipede venom suggest it to be like a mild bee sting and only those people with a known sensitivity to bee and wasp venom need to be particularly concerned.

If you wish to control their numbers in your house your best efforts should go into controlling the conditions that foster the presence of prey species. Fewer bugs, fewer centipedes. Removing or controlling sources of dampness seems to be of particular importance. Seal crevices in general to eliminate hiding places, in particular, seal off entryways into the house. Deny access to food items; if you kill one adult cockroach without eliminating its food supply, you provide plenty of munchies for 100+ baby cockroaches.

For those who currently live with House Centipedes in varying degrees of "Harmony" you might consider yourselves lucky. There are other centipedes in the world up to 10 inches in length. So, if you like getting the heebie-jeebies or the goochie-goomies, the willies or the creeps, then Scolopendra heros may be the giant centipede for you.

As a side-bar: Growing up in Florida we had Wolf spiders with a leg width close to a hand span. They would often trap themselves in our bathtub and we would catch them in a jar at morning to hold them until evening, when we would place them back in the bathtub and they would catch and eat two to three cockroaches a night to my mother's great delight.

We may not like many things we come into contact with in our lives even if we know the basis of our dislike arises from fear and ignorance. While that may be, our place in this world requires us to be Fair! We do not have to like bugs or snakes or even our fellow man. But we must be fair to this world or it will be taken from us by an act of omission or commission by our own hand.

p.s. I just saw a house centipede the size of a small dog speeding toward my bed, and I screamed and smashed it with the Sarah Palin issue of Newsweek. Sorry, dad.


WendyB said...

Well, I'm feeling very foolish for wondering if a house centipede was the same thing as a silverfish. I saw a silverfish in my house so maybe I can borrow your centipede to deal with my 'fish problem?

TINE said...

I nearly died when I saw it's picture, not knowing what to expect. I'm pretty sure that I would smash it too if I saw it.

Katie H said...

OBVIOUSLY your dad gives diatribes in Courier font, what could be more fitting?

Umm, yeah. Winona, move to San Francisco. There are no bugs! And fabulous shopping....

echidna girl said...

Best alternate use of a Palin Newsweek I've read to date. That's even better than recycling. I think the Newsweek staff would secretly approve.

Psuedokim said...

I didn't expect to be so touched by an essay regarding a bug. I'm serious - that was really cool. And I too grew up in FL and had an experience with a wolf spider in the shower, though it wasn't as pleasant. It was more like me, naked, starting to get into the shower, seeing the spider on the wall, falling backwards, ripping the shower curtain off, then running with the shower curtain, still naked, into my parents living room, where my family sat. So maybe your dad made me appreciate house centipedes, but he'd have to do a lot better to make me like a dang wolf spider.

Hyena In Petticoats said...

Woo Hoo! Sarah Palin with smashed centipede on her face - what could be better? Though I do feel a bit sorry for the poor creature - imagine her face being the last thing you ever saw...... eeek!

Leah xxx

cate said...

bravo, Father Nona! that was awesome. we have those bad boys in our house, and i hate them, but i guess i'll do my best to leave them alone. squicky. also, may i suggest using the sarah palin newsweek as kindling? you can chant "burn, baby, burn" for added amusement!

Kendall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kendall said...

A. Thank you for no pics, you are my hero!

B. Dear Winona's Dad,
Even though they're really icky and they make me cry and stuff, next time I see a house centipede I hereby promise to give it one (1) chance to remove itself from my sight instead of immediately climbing onto the highest piece of furniture in the room with my phone to call for reinforcements. ("Listen buddy, I'm gonna turn around and count to three and if you're smart then you'll be gone when I turn back around. I'll pretend this never happened and you can go on your merry way. But if I ever lay eyes on you again, you will spend the subsequent 12 hours trapped under a glass until my stepdad can come over here to DEAL with you. And NO, this does not mean we are friends, so I do NOT want to see you in my shower or anywhere NEAR my bed, capish?")

ps-Am I wrong in surmising that they're not as good at climbing as say, your average spider? Because I've only ever seen them on the floor, never on the walls or anything....

Anja said...

Now that's what I call an innovative fashion blog.lol.

Who knew I could enjoy reading about centipedes!

Sal said...

Sigh. I am glad to have this information, but also quite sure that the ook-factor will overwhelm me next time a house centipede shows up on the couch while I'm watching an episode of "Weeds."

Anthea said...

Wow I never had any of these when I lived in a big house. But I didn't know that! Still not a fan of bugs in general :(

Gigi said...

i come from Britain and i swear, i have never, and i mean NEVER, heard of House Centipedes before in my life. However, after seeing that pictre i'm kind of grateful :)

TheSundayBest said...

Your dad speaks for your poor, your tired, and your repressed arthropods.

hope505 said...

omg I had them in a former apartment and they. are. DISGUSTING! And fast! Christ on a cupcake, batman, they move like lightning-fast. I saw one hanging upside-down in a corner once...it was clutching something in its...pincers...when I was close enough to kill it, I saw that what it was holding half a macadamia nut! An insect strong enough to old half a macadamia nut? Call the exterminator!!! ew!!!!

Little Audrey. said...

I have a fairly old house, as it's almost 80 years old. That means that we have A LOT of house centipedes. I have two extremely scarring stories for you:
a) Once I opened up the toilet seat, to "go" and there was a house centipede swimming around in the water. I screamed, and flushed the toilet. It climbed back up. I think I may have cried?
b) I bought myself a Shakespeare mug, and accidentally left some tea at the bottom of the mug before leaving it in the sink.I woke up the next morning to discover a house centipede so large that it covered the bottom of said oversized mug. This time, I actually cried, and made my dad kill it.

Birdie! said...

LOL! So that is what those bad boys are!?! I had one in my avocado plant when I brought it in from this damned cold weather.

I thought it was a humongous silverfish. Do they come in black?? (LOL sounds like I am askin' about shoes.)


Kristina said...

i will be thanking God regularly that I have never seen one of these in person, because i'm not sure i could hold off on the clubbing long enough to remember that i'm supposed to be grateful to the HC.
in my defense, my husband and i did let a huge praying mantis live above our garage door for almost the entire summer without any instances of shrieking or clubbing.
by the way, this was the funniest set of comments ever.

ameliaheartsu said...

i have centipede phobia. they are by far the most frightening creature on this earth that is smaller than 2 inches. i cry every time i see them.
I've actually moved out of an apartment because i saw 3 of them.

i think i'd actually die of a heart attack if my eyes fell upon the visage of a wolf spider though. please god no.

KD said...

I'm sorry, but I will still kill them.

Anonymous said...

Kendall, They are good climbers maybe not quite as good as spiders. One last-ditch escape trick they have is to jump from a wall using their long legs to catch the air and float down like a leaf. They have a remarkable "brain" to allow the coordination of their legs and the rapidity of their movement across a flat surface.

Sincerely, Winona's Dad

Noël said...

Wow, that was riveting. Seriously. Thanks for the rousing lecture! Perhaps this should be a series- I have problems with earwigs too.

Sara Darling said...

oh holy crap. I was traumatized after unwisely clicking on yesterday's link and now.... I appreciate the logic and respect for wildlife of Pa Winona's argument. And yet... for one thing I'm grateful I've never seen one anywhere I've lived (mainly in Seattle, maybe they haven't emigrated this far yet?)... and if I ever did would likely take the following stance: house centipedes are beneficial arthropod predators. To be a predator one must be fast and sneaky. If a house centipede stays anywhere I can see it long enough for me to a) scream, b) find a blunt object, and c) crush it with said blunt object, then it is i) slow, and b) not too stealthy. And thus would likely be best removed from the house centipede gene pool for the benefit of the whole house centipede species.

amanda said...

Your dad is AWESOME.

(While I still dislike house centipedes, I do appreciate that they keep the cockroach population down.)

enc said...

That's my girl, an eye for an icky, creepy-crawly eye.

Your dad's a cool guy.

Princess Poochie said...

Dear Winona's Dad

You are a man after my own heart.

I grew up in Miami and have seen more bugs in my lifetime than most and befriended many of them. My husband is from Chicago and had to be immersed into the world o' bugs which was quite a shock.

If you haven't had to kill a roach with a car or had one fly at your head, you can't talk to me about bugs.

I am a fan!

More Winona's Dad articles! Not that we don't want more Winona posts too.

(you wouldn't think I was such a bug fan would you?)

Juliet said...

yack! I was eating breakfast here :')!

juliet xxx

*~Dani~* said...

I wish I could believe your Dad, but those things creeped me out. And you post sparked a memory which made me post about centipedes. I linked your blog in my post.

Just say no to centipedes.

D'Rae said...

I just gave you an award!

Lauren said...

Wow. Your dad is FAB :-)

lopi said...

Wow! Winona, give as a warning first, girl! That link picture will haunt me in my nightmares along with Freddie and the boogieman! Couldn't you at least find one that the creature isn't staring at me through the screen? Yikes!

Anamika said...

These things are not easy to kill. One survived after being sprayed with half a bottle of windex (yes I am too scared to get close enough to bash them with anything).
And I agree with Noel, this should be a series.

lisa said...

I still find them creepy. Sorry, Winona's dad. :(

Andrea Platt said...

OH MY GOD. I have never seen one of those in my life, that picture was terrifying.

Shannon said...

I think I am glad I resisted the temptation to click on the picture link.. Plus I am too busy falling off my fit ball laughing at the comments - if I go into labour early I blame you, Winona.

I don't think we have house centipedes in Australia, but we do have a wide variety of spiders big enough to wrap themselves around your head if they felt the urge.
And yes, cockroaches you have to kill with cars also.

Meg said...

My coworker that made the pneumatic tube told me a story about a house centipede that stole cat food.

Michelle said...

So I have never heard of house centipedes before and was asking people I know if they had, trying to figure out if they're maybe an east-coast bug or west-coast bug or more-prone-to-big-cities bug (excuse me, arthropod). I asked my friend Heather, who's lived in several places all over the US, and at first she said she had never heard of them. When I described what they look like, she goes "OH! When we lived in Detroit our apartment had those!". She then proceeded to tell me about how they freaked her out because a. apparently, when you squish them, their blood is bright purple, and b. there was one night when she went to take a drink of water from a glass on her bedside table, only to find a house centipede halfway inside her mouth. EUUUUURGH. It makes me gag a little thinking about it.

I can handle wolf spiders, but I don't think I could handle house centipedes. Of course, I grew up out in the woods where it was either wolf spiders or brown recluses, so yeah.

Just found your blog and I love it - it's hilarious. :)


Chocoholic said...

I still think those centipedes are creepy, but I suppose I'll live with them around. My apartment is on the bottom floor so it is partly below ground. I get these in all the time and my cats usually end up chasing them.

Erin Haight said...

those things are horrendous at least palin was useful for something good!

K2 said...

"The descriptions I have read of centipede venom suggest it to be like a mild bee sting and only those people with a known sensitivity to bee and wasp venom need to be particularly concerned."

This is...not reassuring.

Milly said...

they are sooo creepy...we kept seeing one every night for like a week...my hubby found they were coming from a small hole under our heater ..he patched it up and havent seened one eversince :)

Anonymous said...

While I admit that I liked this article, I have a HUGE fear of centipedes. For some reason, nothing else really scares me as much as they do. I am a 22-year-old guy, and when I saw a centipede in the shower, I screamed and had to have my dad go in and take it outside (he doesn't have the heart to kill bugs). Pretty pathetic, but they scare the living daylights out of me!!!! I can't help it!

Anonymous said...

To the last guy, the 22 year old dude...your not alone. i'll be 22 in a few weeks, and fear nothing; honestly. the only thing i fear is house centipedes, not even centipede...specifically HOUSE centipedes...the look is one thing, but its how fast they are that really creep me the freak out...if they were daytime bugs i really wouldn't care seeing as i'm busy...but i want comfort when going to sleep at night knowing those things aren't anywhere near me. why couldn't God create a nicer, friendlier looking insectivore? i'm moving to greenland.

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Christina said...

i think i'm very glad i didn't click on the link. it sounds like it's traumatized a lot of readers already!

i've seen both house centipedes and cockroaches in one house, and seriously, it doesn't seem like one controls the other. i say let's just get rid of bugs. forever.

Jo said...

Okay, I just found this post. And I read through it, and all the other centipede stories, with nothing more than a forced "AAAAAAAAAAAAAA" of yikes-ness.

I think I deserve a cookie.

Incidentally, I am from Texas, where we have more nasty bugs/arthropods/whatever than anywhere except maybe the tropics. Wolf spiders warm my heart, roaches fail to bother me, and mosquitos might eat my baby but will still leave me unmoved.

Centipedes, though? And scorpions? Give me the heebie-jeebie gitchy-goomies to the point that everything is not ticky-boo.

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