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3 Centipedes in Hawaii

Hawaii is well-known for many things, including its stunning beaches, rainforests, and unique wildlife, including some very cool centipedes. These creatures with many legs are common in homes, gardens, forests, and parks, as well as in the islands’ cities and towns. Even though centipedes in Hawaii may look like harmless animals, some of them can give painful and even dangerous bites. 

In this article, we’ll look at the different kinds of centipedes that live on the Hawaiian islands and learn some facts about them. 

3 Centipedes in Hawaii

Hawaii has at least three different centipede species, including the venomous giant centipede, Scolopendra subspinipes, and the less dangerous Mecistocephalus maxillaris. These creatures are important for controlling pests by preying on smaller insects and arthropods in the ecosystem.

1. Chinese red-headed centipede

Chinese red-headed centipede on a rock
Chinese red-headed centipede on a rock | image by Thomas Brown via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans

The Chinese red-headed centipede, which is also called the Vietnamese centipede, is the most common and largest centipede in Hawaii. It’s also the only species on the islands that’s venomous. They usually live in damp places, like under rocks, in leaf litter, or in soil, and they can be found in both cities and rural areas.

It can grow up to 20 cm long and has a brown or reddish head, yellow legs, and a dark green body. These animals are known to be active hunters who eat a wide range of animals, such as insects, spiders, and even other centipedes. 

This centipede isn’t native to Hawaii. It was brought there by humans and is considered an invasive species. They have been found on all of the Hawaiian Islands and are common in homes and gardens, both in cities and in the countryside.

2. Stone Centipede

Lithobius sp. crawling on the ground
Lithobius sp. crawling on the ground | image by Joan Quintana via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Lithobius sp.

Stone centipedes, which are also referred to as Lithobius, are a species of centipede that can be discovered in many different locations across the globe, including Hawaii. These centipedes are considerably shorter than Chinese red heads and only measure approximately 2 inches in length. Their bodies usually have a shade of brown or reddish brown, and they have 15 pairs of legs. 

Like other types of centipedes, stone centipedes hunt their prey and then use their venom to immobilize or kill it. However, the venom of stone centipedes is harmless to humans. It’s possible to find them living in wooded areas and forests, hiding out in moist environments beneath rocks, logs, leaf piles, and other debris piles. 

3. Mecistocephalus 

Scientific name: Mecistocephalus maxillaris

Mecistocephalus maxillaris, a species of centipede that’s native to the tropical and subtropical regions of south and east Asia, has also been found in Hawaii. This particular species of centipede was brought there by humans. Their bright yellow bodies and distinctive dark red heads make these creatures easily recognizable. 

This centipede doesn’t pose any threat to humans and can typically be found in tropical forests. Mecistocephalus maxillaris make their homes in leaf litter, soil, and other moist environments. They’re also carnivorous and eat other small invertebrates, like insects and spiders. 


Are centipedes a problem in Hawaii? 

Even though centipedes are an important part of the ecosystem in Hawaii, residents may find them to be a nuisance, particularly if they’re the venomous Chinese red-headed centipede. It’s essential to take preventive measures to lessen the likelihood of being bitten by a centipede and to make the living environment as risk-free as possible. Although these creatures are known to bite humans, their bites are rarely fatal. 

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How to prevent centipedes from entering your home?

Centipedes are a common sight in Hawaii, and despite the fact that they’re an important part of the local ecosystem, they can be a nuisance for local residents. The following is a list of some of the things you can do to protect yourself from being bitten by these creatures: 

1. Seal off cracks and crevices 

Centipedes are able to get into your home through the small cracks and crevices that are around the doors, windows, and other entry points. As a result, it’s essential to seal these openings using the appropriate materials in order to stop centipedes from getting into the house.

2. Remove excess moisture

These creatures thrive in humid environments, and you can find them in gardens, basements, and other poorly lit and damp areas of homes. They’re drawn to damp areas, so it’s essential to maintain a dry environment inside the house and ensure that there is enough airflow. You can do this by using dehumidifiers, fixing water leaks, and making sure there is good drainage around the home.

3. Keep your home clean and free of pests

Getting rid of pests in your home can make it much less likely that centipedes will come inside. This is because centipedes usually eat other insects and small animals. If there are a lot of these pests in your home, it can bring centipedes there.