Hawaii Centipede or Scorpion – Take Your Pick

Hawaii Centipede or Scorpion – Take Your Pick

I hesitated the first time writing about my centipede bite, a minor aspect of living in Hawaii. Jeff didn’t think it would be popular either. We were both surprised that my centipede post has been viewed over 20,000 times and is still getting comments three years later. A new critter surfaced last week but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera.

Hawaii scorpions to the front of the list: no longer folklore after finding my first.

I recently cleaned out a bathroom cabinet and found a dead one located therein. My gratitude was related to the fact that we didn’t meet while it was still alive. The critter was about two inches in length, brown in color and very frightening by its mere appearance, albeit dead. By comparison centipedes come in all sizes, from 1/2 inch long babies to 6″ plus giants.

Hawaii scorpions are technically referred to as Lesser Brown Scorpions. They were introduced to Hawaii, and while not among the most poisonous, can inflict serious pain and swelling similar to a wasp or bee sting. Or so I’m told and am not eager to test the theory.

The scorpion stings via a quick flip from the tip of its tail by which it injects its venom. Our species is non-deadly and its stings produces temporary local swelling, pain and discoloration. I certainly hope to have no more information to report on this personally.

If after reading this your curiosity causes you to  want to learn more about Hawaii scorpions, you’ll find more information from the University of Hawaii.

Have you ever been stung by or even seen a scorpion in Hawaii?


  1. Todd (3 years ago)

    I lived on O’ahu four 4 years while stationed at NAS Barbers Point. We lived at Navmag Lualualei in Nannakuli (home of great huli huli chicken on fridays). It was kinda dry on that side of the island and we had a lot of centipedes and scorpions. I hired an exterminator to spray and that pretty much controlled them after awhile. The scorpions were mostly in the garage but the centipedes seemed to love the house. We caulked all the cracks put an ac in our bedroom and kept up the monthly extermination. We also never walked barefoot and always checked shoes before putting on. It was beautiful there at the foot of Koli Koli pass but bugs are just a part of life in the tropics. I also remember on the few days the trades were not blowing how bad the Asian mosquitos were during the day. So it was always something but there is no place like Hawaii

  2. Chuck Lasker (3 years ago)

    I have been happy to live here for just over a year and only have seen 2 centipedes. One was almost-dead in my kitchen in Princeville, most likely having hitched a ride in a backpack I took to the beach the day before. The second was a few days ago in a house in Kalaheo – again in the kitchen, again almost dead. No bites so far, though!

    I didn’t know about scorpions. Dang. At least they’re not deadly….

  3. TheCeladon (3 years ago)

    One day in Kealakekua as I opened a sliding door a centipede fell on my head. I brushed it off and as it crawled under the door, a scorpion came crawling out the other side. But neither was as scary as the 8′+ moray eel I saw one day swimming towards me while I was snorkeling near Mauna Kea beach.

  4. Vern (3 years ago)

    At Bellows AFS on the windward side, after camping one night of the weekend – we found a small scorpion in my friend, Christian’s shoe! Scary stuff!

    Now I live in Thailand and they are literally everywhere. Found 6 in the garage of my last house. We only lived there for 1 year. Go figure!

  5. Joan Levy (3 years ago)

    ugh! I thought we didn’t have any scorpions in Hawaii. The worst pain I ever experienced was a giant centipede bite on the bottom of my feet- to the side of the ball of my foot. What took the pain and swelling away??? a mud pack from the bottom of salt pond!

  6. jimbo (3 years ago)

    Just be thankful you don’t live in Florida, or Arizona etc. they are homes (especially Fla.) to everything piousness… All for shakes, scorpions, and even Alligators. Be thankful for the paradise you live in, Man in his infinite wisdom can surly screw up a perfectly wonderful place by bringing his “trash” to a place with no know enemies.

  7. ed (3 years ago)

    Hmmm, wasn’t it in the latest Indiana Jones movie where he said about scorpions, “it’s the little ones you have to worry about”

  8. joe sylvester (3 years ago)

    Aloha Jeff,

    Scorpions are primarily located in the drier areas of the island of the west side. During the 11 years I lived in Kekaha we would find the little critters hiding under a shoe, but never in them.

    My experience with centipedes stings is that the startle effect is greater than the sting. My motto is practice caution when lifting a rock or anything that has been in contact with the ground for awhile.

    I tend to relocate them they do offer a service by eating and controlling other bug populations.

    • Rob (3 years ago)

      Hi Joe,

      I think you know I don’t live on the dry side of the island, but I agree that is where we expect them to be found.



  9. Mark Olwick (3 years ago)

    On our honeymoon in Hawaii we rented a home on the Big Island. Very clean, regularly sprayed for bugs, etc. I was watching TV while my wife was in the kitchen when all of a sudden a scorpion started across the living room floor. I hadn’t seen one since Saudi Arabia. I jumped up and smashed it with my shoe. My wife asked what was going on and I just said “nothing” so she wouldn’t be freaked out. Needless to say, I kept a close eye out after that!