Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sandy and the House Centipede

I had an amusing interlude this morning. I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water and I looked in on Sandy (my dog). She was curled up in a little brown Ball-O-Sandy on the Purple Chair, which is her usual status at 6:45 in the morning. Just as I was going over to tell her how cute she is, she suddenly leapt off the chair, dashed across the room, and pounced with alacrity on a spot on the baseboard. Just before she landed, I spotted what looked like a small freight train scooting across the moulding. "Ah-ha!" I thought to myself, "It's a million-legged bug!" (That's the scientific name. The more commonly used name is "house centipede" or—if you want to be really dull--Scutigera coleoptrata.)

Sandy has a great passion for catching and mauling all manner of arthropods (an activity we encourage, given that we share our house with a large number of them), so needless to say she was ecstatic to see one with more than twice the usual number of legs. She grabbed it, munched for a minute, and spat it out (this is her usual method—if they're still moving after that, they're still fun, so she goes after them again). The poor million-legged bug was lying on the floor, twitching, covered in dog spit and (thanks to the dog spit's adhesive qualities) dog hair. I expected Sandy to jump back in and give it the coup de grace. However, Sandy had discovered that, in addition to having way more legs than the typical cockroach, centipedes also have way more venom. In case you were wondering, a dog that has been bitten in the mouth by a house centipede looks remarkably like a dog with peanut butter stuck on the roof of its mouth, although with slightly more lip-curling. To save Sandy from further issues (she sometimes lets her excitement about creepy-crawlies overcome her basic good sense), I threw the centipede outside.

After doing some research, I learned that a centipede bite is rarely any worse than a bee sting. (Sandy didn't even yelp when it bit her, and she certainly seems to have recovered—although I think the belly rub probably helped.) I also found out that house centipedes eat cockroaches and other unpleasantness—thereby also discovering why Sandy tried to eat it (aside from the obvious "fun" factor): she was eliminating the competition!

So, I learned that house centipedes (aside from being really eww-y) are good to have in your house, if you can keep them away from the dog. Sandy also learned something: avoid crawlies with too many legs. (Although somehow I doubt she'll remember that in the heat of the moment next time.)

Here is a picture of Sandy:

And here is a picture of a house centipede:

(image of house centipede from Horror Wallpaper; images not to scale)

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