Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Perils

Chinese Red-headed Centipede Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans
Chinese Red-headed Centipede Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans
Bales and baggies of dried centipedes for sale at a Jeju market
  One of my scariest birding moments happened the other day. I was motor-biking around Geoje's west coast rice fields, when I came upon a heap of rotting deer faces. While studying this novel fly-ridden horror, I had an impulse to look down at my leg, and happened to see a hefty Chinese Red-headed Centipede scuttling up towards my crotch. We’re talking a red-faced, venom-fanged demon nine inches long. I swatted at it with my mercifully-gloved hand while grimacing and making a high-pitched Wuuuuuh! sound. As I swept my hand back up, the centipede clung to my glove for an instant, before spiralling through the air straight at my face in slow-motion. I flinched, and when I opened my eyes I couldn't locate it.  So I jumped up and down like a ninny, swatting frantically at my clothes, doing the centipede dance. I finally spotted the brute heading into the leaf litter, and had enough time to snap a picture, before checking my underpants for damage.
  You can find these centipedes for sale at Korea’s rural markets, dried and in little bundles. Elderly Koreans grind them up for use in hillbilly energy drinks or something. Whatever floats your boat, eh.


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