Moving some wood a while ago, I found the usual array of red back spiders and slaters (woodlice), which honestly didn’t catch my interest that much (these things are a dime a dozen here). Then something moved. Something amazing.
This is four inches of centipede. It’s actually slightly longer than my fingers and is pretty bulky as well. In terms of hunters of the garden, this is probably one of the apex predators and even I am cautious of tangling with such a creature. Let’s just say, if I wasn’t wearing garden gloves at the time I would not have even remotely attempted to put this into the “Bug jar” (seen above).
Voracious and IMO, plain evil, the centipede stalks anything that it can find down and then grabs it with those legs (they’re incredibly powerful). After being grabbed it then bites, sinking in two tremendously large fangs called maxillipeds (on either side of the head) into the victim. I like to think of these critters as the “bulldog” of the bug world, considering that they don’t let go and they just dump oodles of venom in.
I have personal experience with centipedes and their habit of biting without letting go. I once mishandled one of these – thankfully not a specimen this large – where it whipped around to bite. Once it sunk in the jaws it simply refused to let go under any circumstances. While the venom is painful, it’s somewhere between a beesting and your average spider bite, it’s the fact they just don’t let go and have very big jaws that make it hurt considerably.
This photo should give you a good idea just how big this fellow was. In reality it had actually paused for a bit to have a look around and I thought it would stay there. Unfortunately the instant I steadied the camera it dashed under my hand – possibly thinking it was a piece of bark to hide under. So you actually can’t see all of it in this photo (yes, there is more of the centipede under my hand).
After this it crawled into a hole in the concrete and I happily left it alone.