Photo courtesy Craig Cruz, Guam
Guam's large centipedes belong to the species Scolopendra subspinipes. Most people try to avoid these many-legged creatures at all costs. But centipedes are really not as dangerous as they look. The bite is sometimes extremely painful, but not deadly (Tenorio and Nishida 1995).
Scolopendra subspinipes is active at night and is generally beneficial because it feeds on cockroaches, slugs, and other pests. Centipede's bite with the tips of the enlarged first pair of legs, which carry poison glands. Though they are longer than the rest and look menacing, the last pair of legs do not sting. Centipedes bite humans in self defense, as when stepped on, grabbed, or squeezed while they are hiding in clothes or bedding (Nishida and Tenorio 1993).
Haddock and Cruz (1995) reported that the Guam Memorial Hospital received only 12 patients suffering from centipede bites during 1988 through 1994. During this same period, there were 1291 patients with dog bites and 123 patients with bee stings.