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The night of the enormous centipede

Last big monsoon event brought rain and a spadefoot to our Phoenix area yard. Tuesday night’s big monsoon event brought even more rain and a centipede.

This guy is a Scolopendra polymorphus, a Sonoran centipede, sometimes called a tiger centipede. This one is about 4 inches long (they can grow up to about 7 inches), and has crawled up the outside of our back door screen, possibly in search of prey, or maybe to escape flooding in the nearby soil, where it very likely dens up.

It’s a beautiful animal, although I have to admit I’m not partial to centi- or milli-pedes (it may be all the pointy little appendages) but as this one’s a neighbor, I’m trying to be inclusive. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has a hard time liking them. Our cat, Hector Halfsquid, spent the evening on the inside of the wet screendoor alternately approaching hesitantly and hurriedly backing away from the centipede, giving the impression of being simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by it.

(Photos A.Shock)

In fact, even today he’s still giving occasional neurotic “creepy hops” where from deep sleep he suddenly jumps out of his skin, apparently having received Gary-Larson-esque “cumulative willies” from the many-legged visitor. Hector’s wariness is probably justified, as these guys can deliver a powerful and venomous bite; not dangerous in most cases, but certainly painful.

Posted by Allison on Aug 18th 2010 02:07 pm | 5 Comments
| View close in,cool bug!,Invertebrata,natural history,the cats,yard list category

5 Responses to “The night of the enormous centipede”

  1. kate mckinnonon 18 Aug 2010 at 9:26 pm link comment

    I have a really hard time with centipedes. Wolf spiders, too.
    I want to feel comfortable around them, I just… don’t.

    Hey! I’m drinking out of my Horned Lizard mug with the red dots, which I adore.

  2. Marciaon 19 Aug 2010 at 9:27 am link comment

    Hi Allison, This is Hector’s grandma from St. Louis. E shared this link with me so I could see him. He is gorgeous. I was sorry to read he had been ill. I hope he has fully recovered. We still have his sister. It is so odd to see a male version of her that is 3 times larger with long hair. Please give him a little hug from me.

  3. sueon 23 Aug 2010 at 12:37 pm link comment

    centipedes, wolf spiders (rarr-r-r-r!) and scorpians. oooph! willie city.

    I had a kitty like Hector once, such thick fur and tail like a feather boa. He was such a sweetie but very shy. Reynard, brother of Rambeau.

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