Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

On lookout for centipede advice


July 1, 2020

My introduction to the New Mexico version of centipede occurred a few years ago, while I was working in an office in Tucumcari.

A sweet young thing who worked in an office nearby appeared in my doorway and said a centipede had gotten into the building. She said she hated them and asked could I get rid of it for her.

“Sure,” I said. I walked out into the hallway and stopped. I wasn’t expecting a bug from an Indiana Jones movie, a 9-inch strand of brown segments and legs with an ill-tempered look on what passed for its face. Pincers never smile. It was just wandering the hall.

Well, with sweet young things, even an old, married guy can’t just shrug and say, “I don’t know what the heck to do with one of those,” so I grabbed a piece of cardboard box lid and the pursuit was on. I scooted the box lid in front of the critter, trying to talk it back to the door.

It just stood up on its hind legs and waved its pincers and antennae at me in a threatening manner, but I kept shoving it back.

Before long, we had a crowd and a younger guy joined me in the quest to back this ugly length of arthropod out of the building.

Finally we got it out of the building onto a platform. We didn’t want it to come back. My fellow exterminator then took my cardboard segment, laid it over the critter and stomped it to death.

That was the last time I saw one of these ugly things until last week. I still pedal my once-sleek road bike south of Tucumcari on State Route 209 occasionally, and on two days last week, I noticed dozens of these creatures crossing the road.

On Friday, my wife and I and our COVID-19 masks traveled to Clovis to do some shopping, and we made it a point to notice the centipedes. There were still a lot of them, starting a mile or two out of town and ending about seven miles further down the road.

During the late-summer tarantula migration, we make it a game to count the number of the big arachnids we see on the road. With the centipedes on Friday, there were so many that counting them was pointless.

As long as I have been cycling on Tucumcari area roads, about 12 years since I moved here, I’ve never seen centipedes on the road until now. In fact, since that incident in the office building, I’d never seen one at all, even though most life-long residents have a horror story or two about centipedes dropping from ceiling vents and other surprise locations.

So, I’m wondering if this is unusual or just one of those things that happens all the time that I just noticed. Online sources have been no help on this question, but I’ll run any advice on this matter in a future column, with your kind permission.

Steve Hansen writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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