Venomous centipedes in Texas leave their painful mark

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by Sarah Forgany / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @ForganySarah

kens5.com

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 4 at 8:37 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- If you thought crickets are creepy, wait until you get a glimpse of the predators they are attracting this summer.

Texas' venomous centipedes are making their mark with a painful bite.

"They have some venom that's pretty painful, they have little barbs at the end of their bodies that they will flip around and hit their prey with it," said entomologist Molly Keck.

They're called Texas giant centipedes.

"There is a myth they are deadly but they are not deadly at all," Keck said.

Jose Deluna was bitten by one several years ago. He says the bite was more painful than a scorpion sting.

"I felt something, my fingers boom, I just jumped, I was just yelling, screaming and kicking looking for it," Deluna said.

Jose never saw that centipede again. His pain lasted for several hours before it went away.  But his symptoms are typical of what Dr. Wright Heartsell says usually happens with a centipede bite.

"It's not like a snake bite, it's not as venomous, you can have redness, and swelling, similar to a wasp sting," Wright said.

Keck tells KENS 5 the Texas giant centipede can inject venom into a human with its pincers but also  by dropping venom from their legs as they crawl on the skin. Keck says the invertebrates are predators but don't typically go after humans.

"When people are stung by them, it's because they came across their path, they touched them accidentally, they picked them up, they have to feel threatened to really attack," Keck said.

The centipedes can grow up to a foot long. You'll spot them more often during the summer when they come out to feed on bugs like crickets but also to find a place to cool down.

As for Deluna's finger, the bite marks may be gone but he'll always carry the scar. "It's more of a mental and emotional scar,"  Deluna said.

Keck says if you spot a centipede inside your house, sweep it outside and don't hold it to avoid getting bitten by one.

According to entomologist Molly Keck, They've been around for centuries but are often reclusive. As with every hot summer, they come out to feed on insects and to find a place to cool down.

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