Thursday, November 15, 2012
Lately we have found several of these strange creatures in our house. At first I thought it might be a centipede but decided it couldn't be because centipedes have 100 legs.
Turns out I failed science class.
"Centipedes (sometimes called hundred-leggers) are elongated, flattened animals bearing one pair of legs per body segment. The actual total number of legs in most species is closer to 30 than to 100."
(quoted from UC IMP Online)
I find this confusing and do not look forward to explaining it to my children. "yes, I know honey, we call it a 'centipede' and I agree that the 'centi' part of the 'pede' would lead one to believe that it does indeed have 100 legs. However......"
And will I be able to admit that for 30 some odd years I would have sworn it wasn't a centipede if it didn't have one hundred legs?
I am pretty sure this is an argument I would have had with my husband. "well, how do you know it is a centipede, did you count the legs? Oh, you only counted 98 legs? Then it must be some other type of creature."
Don't even get me started on millipedes. Hint: they don't have a thousand legs.
But back to these creatures in our house...
The fancy name is Scutigera coleoptrata but since that is difficult to pronounce and spell check keeps protesting I will refer to it by the commonly known name of 'house centipede'.
Iowa State University says that "House centipedes feed on small insects, insect larvae, and on spiders. Thus they are beneficial, thought most homeowners take a different point-of-view and consider them a nuisance."
Wait, they eat spiders??
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln "The safest and most environmentally sound way to control millipedes and centipedes already in the house is to step on them and vacuum or sweep them up."
While that sounds like reasonable advice they did not take into account the following information.
According to the trustworthy site of Wikipedia "S. coleoptrata is 25mm (1 in) to 50mm (2 in) in length and has up to 15 pairs of remarkable long legs. These delicate legs are attached to a rigid body. This enables it to reach surprising speeds of up to 0.4 meters per second (1.3 ft/s)"
I actually believe Wikipedia this time as I have engaged in some rather extraordinary leg work in attempting to step on one of these critters. I call it the "centipede dance", I predict it will be the next Macarena.
These articles also state that centipedes require damp conditions. This year while most of the country has been in a record drought we have been living in our own little micro climate. We had mud most of the summer, the pigs loved it. It rained frequently and when it did we got buckets of rain. This was a common sight this summer.
While a moat does have a certain appeal it really doesn't go with the style of our house so we are actually trying to not have a moat. One of the reasons we are building the Great Wall of Rightmyer, remember that? Anyway....all that is to say, dampness is an issue. Based on the amount of water we have had this year my guess is there are millions of centipedes living under our house. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.....Eat.More.Spiders.
'til next time...