Australia is known for the number and diversity of its dangerous wildlife. Crocs may come to mind first but we have spiders (red-backs and funnelwebs among others), snakes (over half of the world’s ten most poisonous species – this list gives us all ten!) and more.
I was helping clear up around a house on Hervey’s Range, in the hills forty minutes out of Townsville, on Saturday. We picked up an old door which had been on the ground near an outbuilding and saw a scurry. I scurried for my camera and was able to get this:
The boards of the door are about 120mm wide, so the centipede is about 150 mm long.
Centipedes are not (strictly speaking) insects, since insects have only six legs, but are similar in many ways. They are predators, eating anything they can take, and have a pair of poison claws near the mouth to assist them. “Although a bite to an adult human is usually very painful and may cause severe swelling, chills, fever and weakness, it is unlikely to be fatal. Bites can be dangerous to small children and those with allergies to bee stings,” according to Wikipedia (which will tell you much more about them if you’re curious enough to click on this link). They need to be treated with caution but, like most animals, will not attack unless they have no better option. We allowed this one to get away … but we might be careful about picking up anything on the ground nearby in future.
Also under the door was the biggest spider I have seen in the wild. I know some folk don’t like them so I won’t put its picture here but clicking this link will take the rest of you to a group of shots of it on my Flickr photostream. It’s one of the so-called ‘Primitive Spiders’, a group (Mygalomorphae) to which funnelwebs, trapdoors and tarantulas belong. They are mostly ground-dwellers, as mine is. Many are large and hairy, as mine is, and some are very poisonous – and I don’t now whether mine is, but we treated her with as much caution as we treated the centipede.
And we had a great day and no-one got bitten. I did see some non-dangerous critters up there too – a wallaby, scrub turkeys wandering around, a huntsman which only looked small after the other spider, a hawk soaring overhead and insects including a robber fly, a small wasp, a brown katydid and many butterflies.