Searching for Invasive Centipedes in Hawaii

In December 2019, Gunnar Nystrom (PhD candidate) traveled to the island of Maui in Hawaii. Although there are no snakes on the Hawaiian Islands, some of the islands are home to several species of invasive centipedes. Scolopendra subspinipes, which goes by a variety of common names, such as the Vietnamese centipede or the Chinese red headed centipede, is the largest centipede species found on the island of Maui. Scolopendra subspinipes can grow up to 20cm long and are reported to have an extremely painful bite. Although not considered native to the Hawaiian Islands, S. subspinipes is widespread across parts of east Asia, the Indo-Pacific, and the Caribbean. While searching the tropical rainforests on Maui, Gunnar was able to find S. subspinipes at incredibly high densities. In addition, he also found another invasive species of centipede, Otostigmus scaber, which was unexpected. Overall, not a bad place to do some fieldwork!


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