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There scolopendra it is one of the many centipedes that exists in nature, it has special characteristics and let's not imagine it like those we see in cartoons, nice and harmless, because it can also bite us. We can find ourselves in front of a scolopendra even in our home, without the need to live in the countryside: animals of this kind slip almost everywhere, it is better to understand how they behave before living with them. It should be noted right away that they are not dangerous for humans to the point of death, but their bite certainly hurts and causes problems. Irritation and pain, redness and possible allergic reactions are the least we can expect.
It is a millipede with the oblong and massive body, somewhat flattened and covered with hard plates composed of chitin and connected to each other which are also decorated in different colors depending on the species they belong to. They can be dark brown or violet but also yellow, green or blue. During their life they can also change color as they become adults. The front part of the body is considered the head from which four eyes emerge, the second part constitutes the trunk which is composed of beyond twenty segments, each equipped with a pair of legs adapted to move quickly and even run.
It is curious to imagine a millipede running but there Scolopendra it does so, it must reach and grab its prey and wrap it in a death grip with its front legs, hooked to kill. It must also defend itself from predators, though, and for that it is equipped with a couple of particular legs, the lower ones, very developed and facing backwards, to warn predators or to confuse them, because they look a lot like the head.
The Scolopendra also lives in Italy as in the whole Mediterranean region and partly of Africa because it adapts to different situations. It is fine in wet and wooded areas, but also in desert and sunny ones, it lives at night and during the day it is hidden in caves or in houses, or under boulders. We also find it in South America with larger dimensions, it lives in the Amazon, and in all northern and western areas of Latin America.
Scolopendra: how to recognize it
This homemade insect has a particular body that we can recognize quite easily. It can also have 200 legs and measure 30 centimeters, seeing it running away in all its length and with all those coordinated paws, is really impressive.
Scolopendra bite: what to do
The scolopendra is a predator and for its victims it is really terrible because it injects into their body when it grabs them a powerful poison with acetylcholine, histamine and serotonin. Acetylcholine makes you sweat profusely, histamine can trigger allergic reactions. This substance is in some traditions, for example the Chinese one, taken and used as a remedy against dermatological or rheumatological diseases, and also against kidney stones.
Man does not die if bitten by one of these animals but can have fever, inflammation of the tissues, weakness and excessive sweating. Also, near the bite of the scolopendra the skin swells for days and hurts. Better to do something so as not to suffer too much, even if you don't risk death. We immediately take some ice and let's wrap it in ice, to place it on the wound after having cleaned it thoroughly to eliminate toxic secretions. If we have very irritated skin we can use an analgesic and decongestant cream.
Scolopendra: what it eats
It does not eat humans, we know this, but it goes hunting and also aggressively. When they are modest in size, under 25 centimeters, they must feed on invertebrates, such as larvae and small insects but if they exceed 25 centimeters they are also able to kill and eat larger animals such as mice, bats and frogs.
There are several species of Scolopendra, some better known than others. That giant is and lives overseas, in all the humid equatorial areas ofCentral and Latin America. It is called the giant centipede of the Amazon or the Peruvian centipede with yellow legs. It has many legs, like the other species, the front very aggressive and is able to eat reptiles and also of small mammals and birds. In this way, he can even live for about ten years and in general he never confronts man but runs away.
The crawler is another well known species and completely different from the previous one because it does not measure more than 17 centimeters. It is precisely what we can also find in Italy and when it bites us it hurts, causes irritation and redness, sometimes even allergic reactions. Has 21 pairs of prehensile legs and forcipules, usually has a livery that tends to reddish brown and is considered one of the most poisonous arthropods present in our country even if it feeds on larvae and insects and certainly not on humans.
In addition to the crawler and the giant, there are other species that live in other parts of the world. In Mexico and North America there is the Scolopendra heros, called giant desert millipede or Texas red-headed millipede. It is flat and dark, it measures about 20 centimeters in length and has 23 legs with which it can also make jumps to reach rodents, reptiles and amphibians and eat them. When it bites the human being it causes swelling and pain but does not last long. Only in sensitive individuals can it also cause nausea and headache, wound necrosis and heart and kidney problems. The other interesting species lives in the Mediterranean area and is called Oraniensis. It is small, maximum 10 cm in length, and camouflages itself becoming blackish or yellowish.
Scolopendra in the house: where does it come from
The Scolopendra slips into our homes as can all the centipedes who do not have scruples to seek and exploit even the most small holes. If they live under our floors and find a passage, they can really invade our house. The younger they are, the smaller they are, the better they are at slipping into their own rooms, fortunately taking refuge very often especially in wet areas such as cellars or garages. But let's not be surprised if we find the Scolopendra behind the wardrobes of the rooms, especially if we are in a humid environment and with gardens, piles of wood or tree bark. All that is damp is an invitation for the Scolopendra to come and visit us.
The period in which they proliferate is spring, in the summer they live with us for as long as possible but towards the beginning of September they withdraw. For this half of the year, they can become our nightmare, invading our homes and even our gardens. They are of considerable size and it is therefore inevitable to intervene, if it happens, to hunt them. They live mostly at night, so we may not immediately notice their presence, this leaves them time to multiply and maybe move from the cellar to the rooms. In these cases it is necessary to resort to insecticides because unsustainable situations are created from a health and hygiene point of view.
Scolopendra and other arthropods
Our Scolopendra is one of the many arthropods that inhabit our planet. These are invertebrate animals very similar to the Annelids and have a versatile basic structure adaptable to different ways of life. The term "arthropods" comes from the Greek words ἄρθρον (àrthron), joint, articulation, and ποδόι (podòi), feet, in the sense of “articulated feet”, this explains well their physical appearance which is exactly like this.
L'exoskeleton it is elastic but quite rigid and protects the body, it is made up of chitin, it does not contain cells so to grow these animals must perform a series of moults. The body is made up of plates joined by cuticle tracts that form joints that allow movements. (to allow for the movements that would be prevented by a continuous rigid exoskeleton).
From the body come "articulated appendages“, Hence the name of the phylum, which move through tendons, as happens for the legs that allow the Scolopendra and the other arthropods to move even if they want rather quickly. Inside the body there is a cavity without its own walls and located only around the intestine.
L'respiratory system it is very efficient and in some arthropod species it can even fly. In the aquatic ones, breathing occurs thanks to the gills that protrude outwards while the terrestrial ones can breathe in two ways. Some have very small ramifications called tracheae, which protrude outwards through small pores called stigmas, others have particular structures called "book lungs", consisting of folded sheets inside the body to increase the surface dedicated to gas exchanges.