Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh and did I say, "ewwwwww..."?

Visitors to Catalina Island are told that the island is home to at least 400 native plants, and 6-9 that are considered endemic - that is, occurring only here on the island.  Catalina is well known for the buffalo (a non-native animal), but visitors to the island can also learn about the birds, mammals, bats, marine mammals, amphibians, and reptiles that inhabit the island and its waters, along the island's endemic varieties of the shrew, deer mouse, and fox.  So while there is a wealth of material on the island's flora and fauna delivered to the tourists that travel to Catalina Island every year, and some of it is even used to promote tourism - no one ever talks about the great big honkin' bugs!

Seriously - I don't know how many times I've heard someone spout off on the theory that certain species grown differently in the contained borders of an island, adapting to their environment, sometimes flourishing and growing larger than elsewhere.  Personally I think that theory can be applied to the bugs here too, 'cause no where else have I seen insects of the incredible variety and size of some of the critters here! (No, I have not forgotten about the kitten-sized cucarachas in Arizona.  I maintain that those are not insects, they are aliens attempting to colonize the planet.) 

Caterpillars bigger than my thumb - either in neon green & orange or covered in black fur, walking sticks darn close to being branches, prehistoric looking grasshoppers, dragonflies the size of hummingbirds, and yellowjackets large & mean enough to steal a hummingbird's lunch and send it packing.  We got 'em all and so much more.  I have learned to accept this and even find them mildly interesting (except for the yellowjackets - they are evil) when in their own environment.  Which is basically any place outside of my own home. That is a crucial point.

So it is completely understandable why I might have been just a tad perturbed to enter a room and find a very large and many-legged creature strolling nonchalantly up my wall.  And when I say "many-legged", I mean just a ridiculous number of appendages, far more than could possibly be needed for locomotion. And by "very large", I mean freakin' humongous, like something out of a low-budget SciFi channel movie.  And "a tad perturbed" could possibly look more like jumping up and down repeating "eww eww eww eww eww eww eww eww" at a high volume.

After the intruder had been dispatched and fortifying beverages had been consumed to aid in recovery, further research identified the culprit.  Be advised - the following is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, do not click the link if you are prone to nightmares or insect-related phobias.  My uninvited and most unwelcome visitor was an unusually ginormous specimen of Scutigera coleoptrata.

As to this creature being an insectivore, (consuming other insects), which could actually be beneficial to me?  I really don't even give a rat's butt!  I have a cat - that is her job, she is good at it and takes pride in her work.  She considers it the perfect combination of toy and snack.  I would have happily directed her attention to the disposal of the hideous critter on the wall if I thought she stood a fighting chance.  But I had my concerns, kitty may need to bench press a few more pounds and add a few more reps before sparring with anything that size. The Shoe of Death seemed like a much safer choice.

Wanna bet Scutigera coleoptrata gigantus isn't making it into any of the tourist brochures?

6 comments:

Mia said...

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

Carolyn (sea mystery) said...

Ewww! Ick! Ack! I've seen one of these only once and I used the shoe too! No bugs, no bugs, that's my motto. I don't care if they say they are beneficial or not. Getting woozy, think I might have to hurl. If the cat comes up missing we'll know why. *shiver* xxoo

Logan said...

Woohoo! Those things are always crawling around in my shower. I hope you didn't hit it...when you try to smush those things, they just disintegrate, but the legs keep on twitching. Sooooo gross.

Lisa said...

Yikes, that is a monster bug! I'd be jumpy too, living with giant cannibal insects. Up here in the damp northwest, we have some large ugly fauna too, like these gooey things. Makes you think twice about walking barefoot outside.

Ellen Bloom said...

What? No photos of the bugs? Darn!

Sheepish Annie said...

Oh my dear God!!!! I'd have to take the week off before I could even function again. In fact, I may take the week off just because you had to go through this horrific experience and I am a very empathetic sort of person...