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.