Honolulu Lite


Getting a leg up on
excessively-limbed centipedes

I mentioned in a recent column that a centipede the size of a yard rake had managed to get into my house and I dispatched him with my usual implement of centipede control, a machete. That caused many readers to recall with something unlike fondness their own encounters with the excessively-legged creatures and, frankly, considering the amount of e-mail I've received, I'm sorry I brought the whole matter up.

Some readers did not believe I use either a machete or an electric jackhammer to kill centipedes, and I have to admit that kind of hardware may seem extreme. But when I engage in combat with offensively armed insects, I adhere to the Doctrine of Overwhelming Power as espoused by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

I guess what was confusing was the image of me flailing a machete around inside the house, as if I were cutting down banana stumps. I should have pointed out that the technique is more like using a Ginzu knife with many small, rapid chops, so that the centipede is multi-sectioned like a piece of celery.

As far as the jackhammer goes, I concede I only used that once on a centipede and outdoors, at that. I happened to be jackhammering when the centipede rushed me and I diced him up. I highly recommend this method of centipede control to anyone who uses a jackhammer regularly during their yard work.

Brandon and Gail Kop wrote to tell me that I was lucky to have had only one centipede get into the house.

"My wife and I have caught 106 live centipedes in our house in a 10-year period," he wrote. That's a shocking number. But Brandon, I don't think you can refer to a dwelling in which 106 centipedes reside as "our house." It is THEIR house.

Joel Kennedy wrote to complain that I didn't say how to get rid of centipedes "when you find one in bed, when you're naked in the shower or when you are sitting on the toilet." The answers, Joel, are: Jackhammer, jackhammer, jackhammer. Just kidding. I think if I found a centipede in bed, I'd smother him with his little pillow.

Joel said he was sitting on the porcelain throne one day when a centipede dropped from a ceiling fan onto the floor next to him.

"It was so traumatic," he said. "I honestly don't remember what I did." I suspect he did what anyone would have done in his position. Without being too graphic, let's just say "Number Two" is involved.

Henry Shun suggested the way to get rid of centipedes is to place wet slug pellets where cockroaches live. Cockroaches will nibble on the pellets and the centipedes will eat them. Then the centipedes will die from the poison. Hank, buddy, if you are using slugs to get to roaches to get to centipedes around your place, I think you've let your wildlife get a little out of hand.

A reader named Claire said she uses chopsticks to pick up centipedes and then flushes them down the toilet. She also uses a hammer to dispatch those giant cane spiders. Claire, you seem very versatile.

Lisa says she also uses hammers on cane spiders ("It's less messy than a shoe and they don't see it coming") but wonders how to "toilet train" geckos so they don't leave droppings around the house. Small whips, Lisa. Very small whips.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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