Posts Tagged ‘Vietnamese centipedes’

Mongoose, Mosquitos, Centipedes and Spiders

March 5, 2023

Kauai 2023 – Part 2

So, exactly how many feral chickens are loose on Kauai? Recent tracking (as of July 2022) suggests as many as 450,000, or about six chickens to every human. Their numbers have grown significantly over the years since hurricane Iniki in 1992. Why? Because the chickens on Kauai have no significant predators. The island is free of mongooses.

Mongooses are native to India. But they are now widespread on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Molokai. A brownish weasel-like animal, about 2 feet long, with short legs and long tail, they were originally introduced to Hawai’i in 1883 by the sugar industry to control the rats in the cane fields (with a stop in Jamaica, where they were also introduced). Except the plan failed because mongoose are active during the day and rats are primarily active at night. Oops. Mongoose eat birds and their eggs, small mammals, reptiles, insects … they are especially dangerous predators for the native ground nesting nene and albatross and endangered sea turtles.

Although there are no known populations on Kauai, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) is actively controlling the mongoose species. Sightings of mongoose (or any other pests on their target list) should be reported to them immediately. They will come and survey the situation and remove the pest for free. Check out their link:https://www.kauaiisc.org/kiscpests/mongoose/

According to their site, one female mongoose was found dead along a road in 1976 near Kalaheo and sightings have been reported all over Kauai. In May, 2012, KISC captured the first live mongoose near the Lihue Airport. (Yikes!) A mongoose was captured in October 2016, again at the Lihue Airport. Then another mongoose was trapped five years later, in December 2021, at the Nawiliwili boat harbor. https://beatofhawaii.com/mongooses-in-hawaii-why-latest-find-on-kauai-is-so-disturbing/ Very unsettling!

So yeah, because there aren’t mongoose the wild chickens are proliferating. I’m sure the locals don’t enjoy the habits (pooping, cock-a-doodle-do-ing at all hours, aggressively begging for food, and ruining your garden) and antics of the wild chickens as much as the tourists do.

One detail I left out of my previous blog was, while I was following those wild hens around, taking videos of their tiny chicks, Megan was getting eaten by mosquitos. Mosquitos? In Paradise? Admittedly it was near dusk when we walked on that trail, but in the previous nine trips to Kauai I don’t think I got bitten by a mosquito even once. How could it be that in a space of a few minutes Megan got bitten 5-6 times? How was I not aware after all these visits to Kauai that they do have mosquitos? Of course,Google can answer these questions! https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-people-really-are-mosquito-magnets-and-theyre-stuck-that-way/ Yes, some humans are mosquito magnets and other humans, well, mosquitos just aren’t attracted to them (try not to take this personally). ┬áThe subjects in the experiment with greater amounts of carboxylic acid on their skin were most attractive to mosquitos while those with low amounts were least attractive. And apparently, your blood type or diet has nothing to do with it, your corboxylic acid levels are fixed: Once a mosquito magnet, always a mosquito magnet.

Hawaii hasn’t always had mosquitos, of course. They were introduced in the early 1800’s via the whaling ships. https://reviverestore.org/the-plan-to-restore-a-mosquito-free-hawaii/ Six separate species of mosquitos are now found on the islands. Two species transmit deadly human diseases (dengue, chikunguna, and Zika) while one transmits avian malaria. Native Hawaiian species have not developed resistance to mosquito transmitted diseases and so invasive mosquitos carrying avian malaria are particularly dangerous to Kauai’s forest birds, which are fighting extinction. And as far as humans go, if you are planning a trip to Kauai and wondering about the mosquito situation, here is a site – a trip advisor forum on mosquitos in Kauai with lots of discussion from self-proclaimed mosquito magnets… https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/ShowTopic-g29218-i304-k10810066-Mosquitoes-Kauai_Hawaii.html

While we’re on the subject of Non-Native invasive species in Kauai, you can imagine how easily cockroaches arrived in Hawaii as stowaways in shipping containers, starting about 200 years ago. According to this article – https://cockroachfacts.com/cockroaches-in-hawaii/ – there are nineteen different species of cockroaches in Hawaii. But in my ten visits to Kauai, I’ve only spotted one roach, a very large cockroach, likely the American cockroach. It was sprawled out, not moving one bit, in the entry to the ladies room in the Lihue airport. The horde of women entering and exiting the restroom simply stepped around it. No one said a word about it and certainly we weren’t going to soil our shoes squishing it!

So what’s the point of this blog, you ask? I dunno. I started thinking more about the feral chickens and why they are so happy and prolific on Kauai, which got me on the subject of the mongoose and other invasive species in Kauai. Like the centipede. Check out this link: https://a-z-animals.com/blog/hawaii-centipedes/

There are three types of centipedes in Kauai. The Vietnamese Centipede (can probably guess where it came from) is giant – can grow up to 8 -10 inches long. Vietnamese centipedes prefer warm damp areas like under rocks, woodpiles and mulch. It is not common to find them inside homes, thank goodness. I have never seen a centipede in Kauai, but I haven’t been camping! I got a charge out of this story, a 5-minute read, by Gabriel Morris – who, in March 2022, decided to pitch a tent on a secluded beach on the northern shore of Kauai. He scraped out an area of thick leaves and scared up three centipedes in the process. Just scraped them out a few feet way with his shovel. Kept his tent zipped up except to answer nature’s call during the night and left his tent flap open for a minute. Well you can guess what happened. Let me just tell you that these huge centipedes have one tough exoskeleton. And they bite, but don’t worry, Gabriel did win the battle unscathed against his unwanted roommate.

To put a wrap on this I will post one insect photo I did take, that of the common garden spider of Kauai. Where did I take it? Off the edge of Steph and Victor’s front porch.

It’s quite thrilling to see a garden spider with its zig-zag patterned web. They’re magnificent, don’t you think? I don’t remember the last time I saw a garden spider on the mainland. Here’s a link to the five biggest spiders in Kauai, the garden spider being one of them: https://a-z-animals.com/blog/the-5-biggest-spiders-in-hawaii/ Garden spiders will bite if threatened, with swelling, pain and redness. It would probably take either a very brave or very stupid bird to try and eat that spider. None of us were going to mess with it.

Lastly, did I mention that there are no snakes in Kauai? Oh, except for the Brahminy Blind Snake that looks like an earthworm, believed to have arrived via potting soil from the Philippines in the 1930’s. https://maalaea.com/are-there-snakes-in-hawaii/ It’s approximately six inches long, and feeds on ants and termites. Now that’s the type of invasive species we’re lookin’ for!

Just for the heck of it, I’ll step out on our front porch and take a photo.

That’s no spider web attached to our gutter. It’s still a freakin’ winter wonderland here in southeast Idaho.