**CAUTION: This post contains pictures which may be disturbing to some audiences.**
As I explained in last Thursday’s post, this week is crawling with puppies for me and the Mister. What it’s not supposed to be crawling with, however, is hundred-legged nightmares.
Meet the Caribbean centipede.
These little terrors can grow to be more than ten inches in length and have poisonous bites and stings that can cause extreme pain, swelling and other adverse reactions to both humans and animals. They are largely nocturnal, prefer tall grassy areas and are unaffected by most insect poisons, including the ones that have been banned in the United States. (Yes, we use those here.)
The Mister had only ever seen a dead baby centipede and I had never seen one at all… until last night.
A departing seventh semester vet student saw my online wanted ad for a large dog bed for Meera and offered to give us hers if we were willing to come pick it up. We don’t turn down free stuff – we’re not stupid – so we went to retrieve the bed yesterday afternoon. It is essentially a giant fabric bag containing the biggest lumpy pillow I’ve ever seen. It took us the entire back seat of the car we were driving! We weren’t completely sure if it would work or not – it took up almost half of Meera’s kennel – but we stuffed it in and flattened it out as best we could and waited for her to arrive.
The afternoon passed normally. Meera arrived and made friends with Kylie, our first puppy-sitting charge, and everyone seemed happy. Then bedtime arrived. Meera will sleep in a kennel sometimes during the day, but does not like being locked up in them. We have to crate her at night though because she is still in the chewing phase of her puppyhood; but we couldn’t put her water bowl in the kennel with the giant pillow! So the Mister pulled it out to lay it in the floor.
And then the dreaded insect emerged from its lumpy lair.
“ERIN! BRING SOMETHING QUICK!” the Mister yelled to me in the kitchen. Since this is a rather ambiguous request, I went to see what was the matter.
The Mister was holding the puppies out at arms’ length in opposite directions while he straddled something I couldn’t see on the floor.
“Take the dogs! Where’s my backpack?! Bring me something heavy!”
That’s when I saw it… at least four inches long (relatively small, actually) and waving its little stingers around. I couldn’t find anything heavy enough (the only way to kill a centipede is to crush it and cut it apart), so the Mister picked up Meera’s kennel in a panic and slammed it onto the creepy-crawly. His Leatherman pocket knife separated the head from the maimed body and we both sat back, adrenaline rushing and puppies going crazy as the hundred legs continued to move independent from a working nervous system.
“IT TOUCHED ME!! IT CRAWLED ACROSS MY LEG!!” the Mister exclaimed over and over as he rushed for the shower.
That thing had been in that dog bed all day long! It had been in the car with us and in the living room for hours. We had handled the bed multiple times during the day! We almost locked our precious puppy up with it. Things could have been much worse. But luckily the Mister was not stung, neither of the dogs were hurt and it didn’t run away before we could kill it (those buggers are fast and evil!).
Needless to say, I carried the bed outside at arm’s length and dumped it on the porch until I can find the guts to carry it all the way out to the dumpsters. It might be perfectly fine now, but there is no way we’re keeping it without a way to know for 100% certainty that there aren’t anymore poisonous insects living in it. (It’s too big anyway, and at least it was free.)
Now, I can hear some of you back home shaking your head and wondering, “Ok, so you killed a bug. Why is this such a big dramatic event?” But you don’t understand. Yes, it’s just a bug. But it’s a bug that strikes fear even into the hearts of natives who have been here their entire lives. The first thing the locals ask when you are introduced as a student is, “So have you seen a centipede yet?”
And now I unfortunately have to say that yes, yes I have.
If you want to learn more about the Caribbean centipede (for some reason…) visit this site.
[On a completely non-bug-related note, the Mister got his grades back Friday night and passed his first semester of vet school. Watch out, second semester! The Mister is coming for you!]