Saturday, 15 September 2007
Things that creep and things that crawl
Trust me, the photo does not do it justice. You really need to meet a centipede face to face to understand the eww factor involved.
A few nights ago I was lying across my bed copying out a recipe on an index card when I noticed movement at the edge of my range of vision. I looked down and there it was, a centipede, coolly scuttling across the floor. Of my bedroom.
I'd be the first to admit I'm not good with these things. Innocent earthworms elicit an extreme revulsion reflex in me. It's something about that awful wriggling. The centipede is different, and worse, its movement a cross between a glide and a scuttle, with all those legs moving in waves, and the antennae swinging from side to side... Resisting the impulse to take to the hills, where in T&T these days I'm sure to stumble across much more dangerous creatures of the two-footed variety, I grabbed a slipper and squashed the thing flat.
I've seen them in the house before, but not for a long while, and never further inside than the living room - there's a small gap under the front door that's probably the entry point.
The raging fecundity of this place is not restricted to the flora but extends to the fauna as well. When we first moved to another house in this valley thirteen years ago we were taken aback at the sheer numbers and variety of birds - birds which were fatter and far more raucous than their suburban cousins. Then there were the frogs, especially at this time of year when the rains are here. The centipedes appear at this time as well as the ground becomes saturated. They start looking for higher ground, higher ground being the house.
The pale whitish house lizards are more numerous than ever, gulping happily at the rainflies and conducting their strange tail-grabbing and quickly-consummated courtship rituals on the kitchen walls, or falling off the rafters with an unnerving SPLAT! then running off none the worse for wear.
There's a bumper crop of slugs in the dead, sodden leaves under the julie mango tree, and the manicou (opossum) family in the empty lot next door seems to be thriving, despite what I imagine to be their frequent violent family disputes. (Our common types are not grey like in the shot above, but brown.) The bats are in their glory, and the snakes... well, to be honest I haven't seen any in the yard this year, but the valley teems with them. I'll recount my snake encounters in another post. Right now I'm too busy shuddering at the mere recall of my battle to the death with that [ugh] centipede.