Scutigera! Aieee!!!If you'd seen the name written in a list of house-dwelling bugs, you might imagine it a potentially charming, dignified, Italian paisano of an insect; perhaps riding on a Vespa's handlebars and squeaking "Ciao!" While it is endemic to the Mediterranean region, it's been around North America since the mid-1800's. And unfortunately, after seeing its picture, no doubt I have to win you all back from your recoiled positions atop your favorite reading chairs. Indeed, mom's not happy at me for making her scream; I shrieked suddenly and grabbed at her when she leaned in for a closer look at the captured creature. Her fear was only skin deep, haha!
(I asked mom to make the disapproving face again so I could post it on my blog. This photo is not a testament to her acting ability; rather, she merely disapproved of me taking a photo of her to put on the internet. Thus, the disapproving face. I know, I'm a genius.)
Personally, I don't believe in using people's fear to build suspense; if I'm not afraid, you (usually) shouldn't be, either! Why would I want to encourage unnecessary fear? But I went that way with this post title because Americans get a tax credit for referencing "terrorism" in any form (helps the war effort). Gotta... pay... the mortgage? Politics aside, this cute "bug" is a type of centipede (Phylum Arthropoda, Class Myriapoda, Order Chilopoda), called a House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). Like other centipedes, the front-most pair of legs is modified to inject venom used to kill prey. Exceptionally rare stings would be no worse than a bee's. Of course I wasn't certain of that yet when I was outside taking photographs (sometimes, research comes second). Thus, another terror for mom when I ran inside shouting "I need to check that it won't kill me before I go ahead and hold it."
What many people forget about "wild animals" (another weird term to me) is that the tools they use to attack are not always what they use to defend. Scutigera defend themselves by being nocturnal, living in narrow places, and detaching legs if they are caught. The venom is for catching prey. Thus, when staring down a human, the threatened Scutigera will scoot away as fast as it can, towards dark shadowy places. It will not attempt to bite its way out like an outlaw gunslinger shooting up a wild west canteen when the sheriff arrives.
|Don't you see the cuteness now that you're not scared?|
...And that's why to remain respectful, I always release creatures back where I've found them (see video, lower). Especially for northern snallygasters, where I know they will not survive the winter outside! Just nobody tell my mom, OK?