I was wondering if someone could clarify the threat posed by giant redheaded centipede: Scolopendra heros
. The Info page doesn't say, and there are a range of comments on individual pictures, such as:
"not dangerous to humans"
"centipedes definitely don't kill people. They are less dangerous compare to some poisonous spiders. It might cause severe pain, swelling and redness, swollen, headache, nausea and vomiting. If bite become infected it should be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics."
"not considered 'dangerous', but can inflict a very painful 'bite' (mildly venomous)"
"venom of a giant centipede is said to be EXTREMELY painful yet not deadly"
But there definitely ARE case reports of centipedes killing people -- within this genus, if not this species.
The following story on a Univ. of Arkansas website
, has been circulating the internet:
"Scolopendra heros is purported to make tiny incisions with its legs while walking across human skin. When the animal is irritated, a poison is supposedly produced near the base of each leg and dropped into the wounds causing inflammation and irritation. According to one story cited by Dr. Baerg, an officer in the Confederate Army, while sleeping in his tent, was suddenly aroused by the creepy feeling of a large centipede crawling on his chest. A number of spots of deep red, forming a broad streak, indicated the arthropod’s passage across the man’s chest and abdomen. Violent pain and convulsions soon set in, accompanied by excessive swelling in the bitten area. The victim fought with death for two days and then succumbed. The agony suffered by the bitten officer was described by an eyewitness as the most frightful he had ever observed.”
When I came across this story, I set out to see if it was true, but couldn't come up with much.
A Medscape article
on Centipede Envenomation included this case report:
"A case of rhabdomyolysis complicated by compartment syndrome and acute renal failure requiring temporary hemodialysis has been reported following the sting of the giant desert centipede, Scolopendra heros. Prolonged, isolated proteinuria without any other evidence of renal dysfunction has also been reported in a young female following Scolopendra sting. "
Logan JL, Ogden DA. Rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure following the bite of the giant desert centipede Scolopendra heros. West J Med. Apr 1985;142(4):549-50.
From a medical textbook on wordpress
"Of centipedes, only the bite of the giant Scolopendra heros of the southwestern United States is life threatening, principally to children. It injects hemolytic and cardiotoxic venom, causing local necrosis, severe systemic symptoms, and even rhabdomyolytic renal failure. Treatment is supportive."
Obviously we shouldn't handle a giant centipede, but to me there is a big difference between "not dangerous to humans", "bite can hurt a lot but not kill", "could cause acute renal failure" and "could die horribly if it walks across you". So, can anyone say something with authority about this particular species, and should the guide comments NOT assert it's "not dangerous" in the context of these reports? Also, can someone clarify the business of venom coming from anywhere other than the usual front tarsi?