Subject: Large pink centipede found in Caribbean tidepool
Geographic location of the bug: St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Time: 01:35 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: We found this large, pink/red centipede on the rockwall of a tide pool on St Croix in the U.S. Virgin tidepool.
My father idiotically touched it without knowing what it is. He barely tapped it on its rear end. Hours later, he has some pain in his finger, but nothing severe. We were hoping to identify this centipede to tell if it is venomous or not.
It has large bristles on both sides of it. It must be adapted to saltwater, as this is a tidepool connected to the Caribbean. It was able to move pretty quickly.
I appreciate any help you can give!
How you want your letter signed: Brennan
This is not a Centipede. Centipedes are not aquatic. This is a Bearded Fireworm, Hermodice carunculata, which we initially located on Alamy, and then learned on Wikipedia that it is “native to the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea” and “At first glance, this fire worm looks like a centipede with its elongated and flattened appearance, multiple segments, white silks, and parapodia and gills located on the side of its body.” Wikipedia elaborates: “The bearded fireworm is a slow creature, and is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by careless swimmers. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines; applying isopropanol to the area may help alleviate the pain. ” Reef Guide has many nice images of Bearded Fireworms.