Types Of Centipedes In Hawaii
In Hawaii, when the topic of centipedes comes up, it is often the large Vietnamese centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes) that is the center of conversation, and for good reason. The Vietnamese centipede is the kind of creature that turns a scary movie into a horror film. It is also the kind of centipede that is fun to tell tourists about. But, it is not the only centipede species we have in Hawaii. Here are some centipede species you can expect to see if you live in Hawaii, starting with the dreaded Vietnamese centipede.
This centipede goes by many names: Vietnamese centipede, orange-legged jungle centipede, Asian forest centipede, Chinese red-headed centipede, Chinese red head, giant centipede, and probably more. It is not indigenous to Hawaii, but it is doing a good job fitting in with all the other exotic bugs where have here.
The Vietnamese centipede is by far the largest centipede that will make itself a pest in your home. This centipede can be over 20 cm long. Compared to other centipedes, this creature definitely deserves the name, giant centipede.
This is the only medically important centipede in Hawaii. And, since it ranks as high as bees and wasps for natural or environmental injuries that send people to the hospital, this is definitely a creature to be wary of. The bite from a Vietnamese centipede causes an extreme localized pain that many describe as the worst pain they've ever felt. The venom from a Vietnamese centipede can also cause erythema, induration, and necrosis. People allergic to the venom of this centipede can go into anaphylactic shock, but this is rare. The availability of modern medical resources on the island makes mortality unlikely.
Bites from this centipede usually occur when it is brought into contact with humans and is startled. This can happen when putting on clothes, sliding feet into boots, using a towel that was laying on the floor, sliding into a cozy bed that a centipede has already claimed, and similar circumstances. Sealing exterior walls and ongoing pest control protocols can significantly reduce risk indoors.
This centipede, which goes by the name stone centipede or Lithobiomorpha, has the same dark red coloring that some Vietnamese centipedes have, but it is much smaller, and not nearly as "armored" looking. It has as many as 23 pairs of stubby pale legs, and is around 2 inches in length. Certainly no competition for the Vietnamese centipede, as far as size is concerned, but it is still capable of making people jump 5 feet in the air when it is crawling up their pant leg.
Stone centipedes are harmless to people. Most gardeners simply ignore them while they are working outside in the soil. But, these arthropods are definitely unwelcome inside because of their creepy, and somewhat unsettling, appearance.
As with all centipedes, you're likely to find this centipede in moist environments. They love to be under rocks, leaf litter, mulch, and inside logs.
At less than 40 mm in length, this centipede is smaller than a stone centipede, and not likely to scare anyone. It is yellow, with a dark red head, and does not have the comb-like appearance of the common house centipede Scutigera coleoptrata, found in the continental United States. While this species has a red head, don't let it fool you into thinking it is a Chinese red head (Scolopendra subspinipes). This little centipede is not medically important.
It is never fun to find a centipede in the house, whether it is the tiny Mecistocephalus or the giant Scolopendra. The best way to keep centipedes out of your home is to remove conditions near your exterior walls that give these creatures a nice moist, shaded place to hide. Make sure there are no gaps, holes, or cracks that will allow them entry into your home. And, make sure your home has ongoing pest treatments from a trusted pest controller.
Your home should be the safest place for you to be. Let Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions help you keep centipedes and other painful pests out. Schedule to meet with one of our educated pest specialists and let us help you make your home a pest-free zone.