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Monday, 3 September 2012

Centipedes

Some of you might remember me suffering some sort of foot injury about a month ago.  After some work on the land my left foot all of sudden swoll up to almost 3 times its normal size, became bright red and hugely painful.  After a few days of not being able to walk I finally let myself be dragged kicking and screaming to the hospital (I don't trust the medical profession much...).  They seemed generally puzzled as to what this might be, but without doing any further tests put me antibiotics.  They didn't do the trick either and 2 weeks on I was still not walking.  So I hobbled to my GP, who put me on different antibiotics.  After another week I finally started walking a bit and the pain lessened, so I thought the second lot of antibiotics had some effect, but I was still none the wiser as to the cause.  Even now, almost a month later I still can't get that foot into a shoe.

Yesterday my neighbour suggested maybe I've got bitten by a centipede.  We looked at a couple of pictures on the internet and I said, yep I've seen one like this one around:


I've seen a couple scuttling about where we have dug the hole for the pond.  Looked a bit like that one and about 15cm long.  I had no idea they bite!  Well I looked up centipede bite and lo and behold, the symptoms were pretty much like described above.  In people less healthy than myself they can also cause heart palpitations and a racing pulse.  People allergic to bee stings can also have nasty episodes from a bite from one of those fellows.  Also children and the elderly are at risk of having much worse consequences than I have experienced.

This will certainly teach me to put my be-sandalled feet in places where I can't see them.  But before you go and irradicate any you see, centipedes do play an important role in the soil food web(as explained in the same post I showed you my dodgy foot...), both as predators as well as prey.  They are pretty much carnivors and eat a lot of other insects including pests.  And they provide a welcome meal for birds, lizards, mice and snakes.  It's never a good idea to take out a link in the food chain, but rather attract predators to control your potential problem.  So once the pond is in action it will also attract wildlife to control these creatures.

Oh and apparently antibiotics don't do anything against the bites.  Pain killers and / or cortisone tend to be prescribed to treat the symptoms.  Else your body just has to cope with it.

12 comments:

Italy Lover said...

What about using antihistamines? If it is an allergic reaction like you get from a bee sting it seems like that would help.

Heiko said...

Italy Lover, yes that would help if you are allergic. However I'm not allergic to bee stings. I get stung almost every week by wasps and even hornets, and whilst painful, they go again very soon. A bite from a fairly large centipede is just a much nastier poison than that of bees.

Ayak said...

They really are vicious creatures. Some months ago I found one in my washing machine. It actually attached itself to my finger but fortunately I shook it off before it bit me. Glad you discovered what it was though...no more sandals I think!

Stefaneener said...

Yipes! Will you investigate boots for your toesies?

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Oh goodness I had no idea that centipedes bite! I hope you are fully recovered by now.

Heiko said...

Yep, Ayak and Stefani, it's definitely boots when working in tall herbage from now on.

LindyLou, I had no idea either. You learn something new every day. Sometimes learning is a painful experience!

The Mexican Hillbilly said...

Wow glad you figured out what it was! I had no idea they bit either.

Anonymous said...

try to get some probiotics into you to counter the effects of the horrible antibiotics. Get some kefir.

doctors really should call them IhaventGotACluebiotics

Heiko said...

Anonymous, can't get any kefir in Italy, but been eating live yogurt. Always do when I get put on antibiotics. At first I wasn't going to take them, but the pain and swelling were so severe, I finally got myself talked into them lacking a correct diagnosis,

Lo Jardinier said...

Hope you're 100% fit and digging, kicking, dancing - or even just standing - as normal soon. Haven't seen or heard of anything like that here, and I hope I don't.

Heiko said...

Lo Jardinier, Since yesterday the foot fits into a shoe again, so will be back at work soon. It's only certain species that bite and the bigger they are the worse the bite. I'm sure you must have some as well. The beast must have got trapped between my sandal and foot and hence bit.

Jan said...

Sounds very painful. I knew they bit, but we don't see very many of this sort here... apart from the one that ran towards me one evening from the pile of firewood!