Comment on House Centipede – Scutigera coleoptrata by C Wilson.

House Centipede - Scutigera ColeoptrataThanks for the most informative article I’ve been able to find on these creatures. I’m writing to tell you about what I think might have been a world record specimen…

My wife and I just bought our first house, a 60-year old Cape Cod in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When we bought the place in December we noticed a few small Centipedes (1 inch bodies or so) in the sinks and tub but we just put it down to the place having been uninhabited for a few months.

Boy were we wrong.

As April arrived we saw a couple of weeks of constant rain followed by the final arrival of Spring in the form of a couple of blazing hot days, and suddenly our infestation (and I’m not calling it that lightly) began. First we started seeing some smaller specimens – at least a few each day – around tubs and the sink. Then the mommas and pappas came out, several each day.

Most of the big ones fit my research in terms of size – bodies about 1.5 – 2 inches long but because of the leg length, they appeared about 3-4 inches long. I now understand this is the expected maximum size. Now I’m not sure if ‘gigantism’ manifests in insects the same way it does in humans, but if so then I think last night my wife and I encountered it. Either that or we’ve got some nuclear waste leak going on nearby turning these things into freaks.

We’re sat on the couch relaxing for the evening when my cat suddenly goes into hunting mode and darts across the room. We follow her gaze and then my wife, who is not particularly squeamish, screams at the top of her lungs. I can’t even describe the feeling I got when I saw it – it was a bit like the bottom of my stomach dropped out. Much as I imagine you might feel if you layed eyes on a bird eating tarantula.

This guy (or girl) had a body at least 4 inches long and as thick around as my thumb. Note that I said body – this is not including the legs. I estimate that including the legs it was around seven inches. Hold up your hand in front of your face – that’s how big it was, from wrist to tip of middle finger.

Unfortunately I didn’t stop to think about trapping it. I think my wife’s reaction kind of sent me into defensive mode and I swept up the nearest magazine and thwopped it. It fell onto a nearby TV table and I thwopped it again, and again. It took FOUR hits for it to stop moving. I’ve got cold shivers even rewriting about it.

Anyway, needless to say I’ve spent my whole day researching how to make sure these things are as absent from our home as possible. At lunch I walked out of Home Depot with well over $100 in Great Stuff, Dap Caulk, Foundation crack cement, Ortho Home Defense Max, Glue Boards, Diatomaceous Earth and Raid. Tonight, when I get home from work, the war begins…

First though, I still have to pry my wife off the ceiling.

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