Joe’s mom had asked him to pick up his toys in the basement.
“It looks like your toy box exploded downstairs. Please go and put your toys away.”
“Jacob helped get them out Mom.”
“I’ll bring him down as soon as he wakes up from his nap to help you.”
Joe trudged down the basement steps. His mom was always asking him to pick up the toys even though Jacob played with them just as much as he did.
He started to pick up the toys when he saw something move across the carpet…fast. It was too small to be a mouse. Joe glanced toward the stairs wondering how long it would take for Jacob to wake up and for his mom to come downstairs. Did he have time to investigate?
Deciding that he did, he slowly crept to where he saw the thing go.
At first he didn’t see it, but then it darted out from under the couch…running quickly toward the coffee table. Time to get the bug gun.
After creeping up the stairs…checking to see if his mom would see him…he quickly grabbed the gun and bug house that he had left on the kitchen table and raced back down the steps, worried that he wouldn’t be able to find it again.
He recognized it immediately and was excited to learn more about it. So with good motivation, he finished picking up the toys in record time and ran back up the stairs with his new find…the centipede.
Joe knew that “centi” meant 100 but he was shocked to read that they could have anywhere from 20 t0 300 legs. No wonder they could move so fast. If he had 100 legs he could run around the property in 1 minute!
They are carnivorous so they eat other bugs and they can grow up to 12″. Joe looked at the one he had caught. He thought it looked about 1″ long.
Whoa. There were up to 8,000 species with only 3,000 described. Joe wondered if they all communicated with each other. If so, they could organize and march across the country eating every bug they found and the larger ones can munch on lizards, frogs, rodents, spiders, beetles, bats and even birds. Did they jump to catch them? Yikes.
Some had eyes and some did not. But they can only sense light and dark and some don’t have eyes at all so their last pair of legs act like ears. They didn’t have pincers, but their first legs act like them and capture the food…giving them a shot of venom to keep them still. Again, yikes.
Each pair of legs gets longer and longer as they go towards the back so they don’t overlap or collide with another centipede or trip.
They breathe like regular insects. Joe had never read anything about bugs breathing. He guessed they needed oxygen just like everything else.
Geeze. The girls don’t seem like very good moms. If they are threatened they’ll either abandon their eggs or eat them. Gross.
Beetles and snakes, among other things, eat them. Too bad he didn’t have a pet snake.
As Joe read about the harm they could cause for humans, the color drained from his face. The bite to an adult could be painful and cause swelling and a lot of discomfort…but the smaller ones couldn’t even puncture the skin. Joe wondered if a 1″ centipede was considered small. After mulling it over he decided that he didn’t want to take any chances. It was just too much of a risk.
“Hey sweetie, what are you researching?”
He jumped. The sudden sound of his mom’s voice startled him.
He stood and looked at his mom.
Solemnly he said, “I wish I hadn’t let that stag beetle go Mom.”