What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Big centipede with red legs in February in Virginia?
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
February 26, 2012 5:56 pm
My little Siamese cat reached through the blinds and knocked this leggy thing from my dining room windowsill. It does not look like a house centipede. It looks like a genuine ”it can really bite you” centipede. I pushed my cat away, grabbed a thick napkin, picked up this bug and threw it out on the sidewalk. I took some picture and have attached two of them. Is this a centipede? I have never seen one like this in Virginia.
Signature: Mary

Tropical Centipede

Dear Mary,
This submission poses some perplexing possibilities.  This is one of the Tropical Centipedes in the genus
Scolopendra, and the genus is represented on the eastern seaboard by two species documented in Florida, including the Florida Blue Centipede, Scolopendra viridis, which has a range documented as far north as North Carolina according to a map link (to naturalsciences.org) on BugGuide. Most of the individuals pictured on BugGuide have blue legs, however, there is one photo on BugGuide that looks similar to your individual.  There are so many inconsistencies that we are reluctant to say for certain that this is a Florida Blue Centipede without the specimen being inspected by an expert.  Did you or someone in your household make a recent trip to a location with a warmer climate?  If so, it is possible this individual was a stowaway in the luggage, or it is possible it is an unusually colored Florida Blue Centipede in an undocumented part of its normal range, or it might be a different species that was heretofore unknown in Virginia, and quite possibly an entirely new species.  Alas, it seems we have more questions and answers.  This sighting would probably have been of interest to your local natural history museum.

Aha! Thank you!
I  think I  know the answer now.
In late December, my husband ordered an anniversary gift for me.
It was finally shipped out on February 14, and arrived at our house on February 16.
The large box contained a beautiful framed painting by the Hawaiian artist, Leohone.
It was shipped out by FedEX  from……..Honolulu, Hawaii.
The cat did not find this bug hanging out on the Windowsill until February 26, so that means it must have been here for 10 days (and no one noticed).
If this is a Hawaiian centipede, it must be a pretty hearty bug to travel so far and then live 10 days in cold Virginia with nothing to eat.
It was still full of fiery fight and energy!
Good thing that I saw it before  the cat had enough time to really “play” with it.

Bingo.  This looks like a good match on The Firefly Forest website.

I just looked at the link that you sent me.
That’s IT!   You found it!
I have been looking all over the internet trying to find  a centipede that resembled it.
At first, I didn’t even  make the connection.
But, now I know it was most definitely a stowaway in the picture box that was shipped to me FedEX….from Honolulu, Hawaii.
This means the big centipede was wandering around  in my house for 10 days before our cat noticed it.
In spite of the fact that it probably had nothing to eat since it left Hawaii, it was still filled with fiery energy.
As one of my friends remarked……it resembles a “mini-dragon.”
I am so glad I was able to pick it up off the floor and get it out of the house before my cat had a chance to really “play” with it.
Especially after reading the article that you sent me, I know my cat would have lost any game with this particular centipede.
I regretfully admit that I felt compelled to kill the poor misplaced bug.
Assuredly, the people in Hawaii who accidentally shipped it here don’t want it back.
And I couldn’t  leave it wandering around outside. It simply doesn’t belong here.
Don’t want somebody’s unsuspecting pet to get hurt.
Sigh. The colder weather would have probably killed it anyway.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Virginia

3 Responses to Probably Hawaiian Centipede in Virginia

  1. Paula dean says:

    Be thankful that you did kill that centipede from Hawaii they are not only dangerous for animals they are dangerous for people. When I visited Hawaii in 2010 some centipedes crawled in our wet clothes and the locals informed us to never touch them or we would be in the hospital for days in horrible pain. They are extremely dangerous.

  2. Lolly says:

    We just found a dead one of these on a nature trail in Northern Virginia today! It was wrapped around a log, 3/4 outside of it. I took a picture bc we’d never seen anything like it, but when I tapped it with a stick it fell apart very grotesquely. Would be happy to share photo.

    Location: Nokesville public park path!! Not a Hawaiian transplant!?

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