Hawaii Doesn’t Have Snakes ……..But Hawaii does have Centipedes!

Feb 6, 2022 | General Information

Nothing will bring shivers down your spine faster than the site of an 8 inch centipede (in Hawaii, they can actually reach a foot in length). When you see one it is always startling as they are seemingly there for a moment and then they are gone. There sting is a powerful one as can be attested to by anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of having been stung.

Typically the centipede will be found outdoors in areas that are dark, moist and warm like under rocks or in heavy undergrowth but truly, they can be found anywhere. My first experience with a centipede bite was on the second day I moved to Hawaii decades ago when I was simply sitting on the grassy area affronting Lahaina Harbor and found myself evidently competing for the same piece of ground as this disagreeable serpent. Quite often they can be seen more effectively as they cross a sidewalk or an open space but they can also be found indoors.

Being avid and deadly hunters they are often in search of prey which includes spiders, wasps, ants, cockroaches, and other forms of insects including other centipedes but they are fearless enough to attack even small animals like mice and rats and in fact any animal that is shorter than their extended length. They are carnivorous and are not afraid to attack because their potent venom will often disarm an adversary in short order. Attacking humans is likely more of a defensive maneuver when they feel threatened and although there can be complications for some people the typical bite will usually run its course and disappear within a couple of days. The ‘running its course’ part will usually include a period of intense fiery pain which will last for some minutes and then turn into a generalized swelling of the infected area. Ice is usually the best remedy and perhaps some type of over the counter pain reliever.

When you encounter them in your living space it is a good idea to not take your eye off them for a moment as you use your peripheral vision to implement a plan to dispatch the frightful insect. Tongs can be useful if they are within reach as could be a heavy object like a book but it is important to make certain you do not loose visual contact with it in your search for a weapon to use against it or it will disappear and you will be certain to lose a night or two of sleep knowing that it is somewhere within your realm.