Living in Hawaii: How to Survive the Big Centipedes
In Hawaii, big centipedes are just a fact of life. That said, not many of us are born with the ability to casually pick them up. Some of us have nightmares about centipedes. Some of us have overcome our fears pretty well. Still, I don't want to get within ten feet of one.
While it's unlikely that you'll encounter one of these giant centipedes at a hotel, if you've recently moved to Hawaii, or stay at an Airbnb on one of the islands, it's important to understand how to handle these pests. This article explores my experiences with these terrifying creatures and how my family and I handle them. Below is everything you need to know about these gigantic Hawaiian centipedes and how to eliminate them.
Surviving Giant Centipedes in Hawaii
When you live in Hawaii, it doesn't always seem like paradise. Sure, if you stay in the hotels or condos that are designed specifically for vacationers, then you're pretty safe. I've never heard of anyone encountering centipedes or other nightmare material in their living quarters while vacationing here. The vacation properties are maintained to be bug-free. However, out in the real Hawaiian Islands, not all of us can afford monthly home and yard sprayings. Others don't want to live with the consequences of breathing in and touching pesticide on a daily and continuous basis. Some days, I feel like I'm a hero just to have survived another day in "paradise."
What Kinds of Centipedes Live in Hawaii?
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.
t has as many as 23 pairs of stubby pale legs, and is around 2 inches in length. You're likely to find this centipede in moist environments.
It is yellow, with a dark red head, and does not have the comb-like appearance of the common house centipede.
How to Kill These Bugs
Why not just stomp on the centipede, you ask? Unless you are very heavy, that rarely kills one. They are made of steel armor. They are built to last. That's why everyone has the Maui Built stickers on their vehicles out here. These tropical centipedes are big and strong. Some of them grow to be 12 inches long and almost one inch in width.
I used to say, "If we ever find a centipede in our living area, that will be it; we'll have to leave these islands." But when I see my brave little grandchildren taking these creatures in stride and being able to fall asleep at night when they have just finished witnessing the execution of a translucent 10-inch long centipede, I think to myself, I've got to regain my perspective. Centipedes can't hurt me. (Yes, they can.) They were here first. (So what?) I love living near my family and I'm not going to let the centipedes be a deterrent. I'm bigger than them. (Okay.) This is my internal battle every time I see one lurking around my yard.
My daughter, Priscilla, can kill a centipede with a butcher knife or scissors all by herself. She is an adult with children who are looking to her for protection. If her husband, Daniel, is home when one of these fast-slithering creatures from hell enters the family domain, she grabs the biggest knife she can find and hands it to him. Daniel then has the honor of hacking the thing in half. Then he cuts it in quarters.
What You Can Use to Kill Centipedes
What It Does
Aqueon Aquarium Silicone Sealant
Water proof caulk that stops moisture from entering or exiting. Also seals off small holes that insects could enter through.
Victor M256 Poison-Free Insect Magnet Traps
A classic adhesive trap aimed at eliminating silverfish, cockroaches, ants, centipedes and other parasites. Apart from the adhesive tape, the pheromone bait is used.
Ortho 0196710 Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray
Spray as a barrier. It is supposed to kill the arthropods rather quickly and then it goes on to serve as a repellent for a few months.
Safer Brand 51702 Diatomaceous Earth
Made of recycled algae. They can eat them, inhale them or just walk over them – in any case diatomaceous earth will harm them and dehydrate their bodies.
How to Eliminate Centipedes Naturally
Why It Works
Keep your house dry.
Centipedes dry out and die if they don't stay in a moist environment. Clean up basements, closets, or any other damp areas.
Get rid of other small household pests.
The centipedes will have nothing to eat, and will hopefully die or move in with the neighbors.
Reduce clutter, inside the house and out.
Clutter can trap moisture. It can also provide a cool space that mimics a rock.
Close off entrance points.
This will keep the bugs from entering your home in the first place. Seal any cracks in concrete foundations, and caulk spaces around doors and windows.
What Do These Bugs Eat?
Centipedes eat insects and small animals. They detect their prey through their antennae and they paralyze their prey with their venom so they can dine more easily.
Where Can You Find a Centipede in Your House?
Centipedes like to hide under cement. I know how they get into one's living room when it seems impossible for them to do it. A friend of mine told me this, "When it rains, they get themselves under the sliding patio door when it is opened for a minute or less. Then, when they are good and ready, maybe that night or the next day, they climb off the bottom of the sliding door into the living quarters to wreak havoc." They love to do that. They figure, if they have to leave this world, they may as well go out party-style.
Where Do These Bugs Normally Live?
Centipedes usually live outside, but the House Centipede can be found inside as well. Centipedes usually live outdoors in damp areas such as under leaves, stones, boards, tree bark, or in mulch around outdoor plantings. If they are around the foundation of the house, they may wander inside.
Centipedes Fight to the Finish: A Real Life Story
Just the other night Priscilla and I were talking on the telephone. Her husband was at work. All of a sudden, Priscilla screamed. I could hear her breathing fast. She was panic-stricken for about two minutes. "Priscilla, Priscilla?" I asked. I had heard her say the word "centipede," so I knew it wasn't a human intruder. Finally, she came back on the line. She said there had been a centipede in the kitchen. She hadn't seen it and had accidentally stepped on it but, luckily, she got her foot free before the thing attacked. She grabbed the kitchen tongs and picked the creature up, got it outside, and hacked it up. I am glad she took it outside to do this because, recently, I heard that the scent of a cut up centipede brings more centipedes to the area.
Centipedes don't stop moving just because you cut them up. They fight to the end. They look like they are coming to get you! That's because they are coming to get you! Their pinchers are still pinching for several minutes after the body is lying in pieces, writhing on the floor. Daniel has pestered a sliced-up centipede after the execution and by poking a pencil at the pinchers has found that a centipede can keep up the attack mode for six minutes after being sliced into four pieces. This is information that, hopefully, you will never need. And as I mentioned, my daughter is capable of carrying out the execution on a centipede herself. She does not back away (or stand on the table and scream for help) if her husband is not home when the centipede is discovered in their condo. She says it actually gives her a feeling of confidence to know that she is now capable of doing this herself (whenever necessary). I will never know that feeling of confidence, but that's okay. Hopefully you will.
Questions & Answers
© 2010 Pamela Dapples