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Island residents raise alarm as centipedes thrive in weather conditions

A 10in centipede caught in Southampton by Jefferey Lindo in 2014

Residents across the island have raised alarms this month about unwelcome intruders on their property — centipedes.

A spokesman for Bermuda Pest Control said the company has received a surge of calls about the venomous insects — but said it was common this time of year.

He said: “We have received a lot more calls and a lot more e-mails about them in the past two weeks than we have had in quite some time.

“With insects there is always a certain level of randomness to it, but based on what we have seen the increase is a lot to do with the weather we have been having.

“It’s very damp, it’s very cool, and that’s a perfect environment for centipedes, so they are just thriving right now. It does typically die down in the summertime and picks up again during hurricane season.”

The centipedes found in Bermuda — scolopendra subspinipes — are often called St David’s centipedes locally, but are also known as red-headed centipedes, orange-legged centipedes, tropical centipedes and jungle centipedes elsewhere in the world.

The spokesman said despite local “myth”, they are not just found in the East End.

He said: “It is very much luck of the draw as to when you see them, but we have received calls from Somerset to St George’s about centipedes.

“I don’t know if that was the case years ago, but as far as I have known, it has been an island-wide thing.”

The spokesman said that centipedes do not bite people — but their front legs are equipped with venom glands capable of delivering a sting.

While the sting is usually said to be about as painful as a bee sting, it can cause an allergic reaction in some.

The insects are often eaten by toads, but their numbers have risen as the number of toads in Bermuda have fallen.

He said that anyone concerned about centipedes on their property should make sure to clear fallen leaves.

The spokesman said: “They love getting underneath old plant material, so mulch in gardens especially is an attractant. If you go out in your yard and dig up mulch, you are bound to find a centipede or two.

“Clearing away old, decaying plant material is going to help eliminate their preferred environment and get rid of their home.”

He added that if people are worried about centipedes in their home, the solution is to seal up cracks and crevices that allow them to sneak inside.

The spokesman said: “They are flat little buggers. They can squeeze. Sealing up cracks and crevices will help keep them from getting in.

“They don’t really like to breed inside — the odd case might happen if there is a live plant indoors that met its criteria, but I have never had a call about that.”

What’s your favourite centipede story? E-mail news@royalgazette.com

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Published January 27, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated January 27, 2022 at 10:06 am)

Island residents raise alarm as centipedes thrive in weather conditions

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