Centipedes Attack!(?)

a natural and sustainable lifestyle has many, many legs

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Holly Zimmerman

Unfortunately, it seems I have arrived at the time in my life when I must get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. It’s not so bad, really – I experience a small amount of voyeuristic glee in witnessing which of the neighbors’ lights are still on at 3am, and the innocent joy of returning to my warm comforter after a chilly trip downstairs is quite pleasant. But then spring hit, and our bugs started to return.

We live in a charming little 1950s home on the Eastside Hill, and amongst the various crap lodes that the previous owner left for us around the house, we inherited a veritable infestation of a creature called scutigera coleoptrata, or house centipedes. If you are not currently wincing in disgust because you are familiar with this gaggingly terrifying little nugget of natural wonder, please, please Google “house centipede” right now. See what I mean?

Now imagine it’s 3:19am. You are standing (or sitting) in the bathroom, and one of these little bastards comes tearing out from under the bath mat at about 70 mph. I normally dodge backwards, hitting the door and slamming it into the wall. Next I clamor for a tissue or some toilet paper with which to dispatch the fellow. Then I’m plunged into a whirlwind of middle-school phy-ed class shame as I repeatedly jab at the thing, but, being completely incapable of “leading” it, miss numerous times. When I finally succeed, I squash the hell out of it, but before I toss the paper wad and corpse into the toilet, I always have to look. Usually its legs are still twitching. Then, as the adrenaline wears off over the next few hours, I lay in bed, unblinking, until I cry myself to sleep.

My first instinct was to declare total war on these insects, and I solicited friends and the mighty internet for help. At that point, the plan was a mix of glue traps and flamethrowers. But, one of my amigos explained to me while we were comparing house centipede stories that these things actually hunt and eat other bugs. Apparently, they’re not after my family at all. Apparently, the one time that a particularly monstrous one got a hold of a handgun, it wasn’t shooting at me. It was shooting at some spiders behind me.