Alien-like centipedes cause alarm
Alien-like creatures have been seen scuttering with great speed around homes and gardens.
The appearance of the critters has sparked alarm among Auckland residents with reports of them being seen in Mt Albert.
But rest assured, the community hasn’t being invaded by aliens - the creatures in question have been confirmed as simply the house centipede. The centipede comes from Scutigera family and can grow up to 40mm long. It can have up to 15 pairs of legs which makes for an unusually brief sight.
‘‘There’s not much chance of holding them because you couldn’t catch them,’’ bug expert Brian Lawton says.
‘‘It’s the movement that gets people ... they have so many legs and glide over the surfaces.’’
All centipedes are considered predators with a ‘‘sharp mouth’’ located at the top of their head.
They usually eat flies and cockroaches but have occasionally have been heard to take a nip at humans.
Lawton says their bite has been described as painful as a bee sting, but there’s only way to find out.
‘‘I’m going to have to be bitten by one so I know what it’s like,’’ he says. ’’I suspect they probably could give you a little nip.’’
However he says the centipedes would probably not bite if they are handled gently.
‘‘If you squeeze or restrain it then of course it will fight back,’’ he says.
The creatures are usually found in older houses such as villas. ’’They come in the house and chase and catch other bugs,’’ Lawton says. ’’There’s certainly no disadvantage having them in your house.’’
Lawton is the founder of Hands on Creatures and has a house full of creepy crawlies. He doesn’t have any house centipedes but is the proud owner of a giant scolopendromorph centipede, which is native to New Zealand.
Their bite can reduce a grown man to tears, Lawton says. The giant centipede is a regular feature in his interactive talks at schools.
‘‘I bring it out and when I tip it out on the floor, you should see some people’s faces. ‘‘It’s got that S-shape movement and is a bit slippery ... but we always manage to catch it.’’
Have you seen a house centipede in your house? Tell us about it at Neighbourly.co.nz