You don’t have to be a Kardashian to stand out on the Internet — all you need is at least 20 pairs of bright-yellow legs, a gleaming red head and venomous fangs.
Last week, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) posted a picture of a giant redheaded centipede to its social media pages that met all of the above criteria. The image quickly went viral. While many people reacted with horror (apparently, giant, colorful centipedes are the stuff of nightmares), this critter doesn’t eat people or seriously harm them in any way (at least not usually).
However, giant redheaded centipedes (Scolopendra heros) — which can be found in certain regions of the southern United States and northern Mexico — do take people by surprise fairly often, said Ben Hutchins, an invertebrate biologist with the TPWD. [Gallery: Out-of-This-World Images of Insects]
In a 2014 article published in TP&W magazine, Hutchins explained that S. heros typically hangs out under rocks, logs or leaves. But sometimes, these centipedeswander into people’s homes, where they can cause panic, thanks to their 8-inch-long (20 centimeters) bodies and dozens of legs (they typically have 21 to 23 pairs). The critters use their many appendages to grasp prey while feeding.
Though S. heros mainly munches on invertebrates like insects and arachnids, the impressively sized centipede is also known to take down larger prey, such as rodents, snakes, lizards, toads and other small vertebrates. In captivity, giant redheaded centipedes seem to prefer eating moths, according to the University of Arkansas Arthropod Museum.
The critter kills its victims using its “fangs,” or forcipules, which are located near its mouth and contain venom glands that inject a toxin into its unlucky prey. The giant redheaded centipede is also thought to inject venom into prey with its many legs, which can make tiny incisions in human skin, according to the Arthropod Museum.
When one of these giant creepy-crawlies bites a human, the result is usually pretty painful, according to both the Arthropod Museum and Hutchins. Victims of these centipede bites report localized pain and swelling, but Hutchins said people also have reported skin necrosis (tissue death), dizziness, nausea and headaches, Hutchins wrote in his article.
Hutchins also lists muscle tissue damage, kidney failure and heart attack as rare side effects of the centipede’s nibble. A case reportpublished in 2006 in the Emergency Medical Journal cites a bite from a centipede, likely of the genus Scolopendra, as the cause of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) in an otherwise healthy 20-year-old man. Whether a giant redheaded centipede was responsible for that unfortunate event isn’t stated in the report.
Should you happen upon one of these giant centipedes, pay attention to its colorful body parts. Known as aposematic coloration, or warning coloration, the critter’s bright colors serve to warn predators that, whileS. heros might look tasty, it’s really a poisonous treat. Consider yourself warned.
- No Creepy Crawlies Here: Gallery of the Cutest Bugs
- Alien Invaders: Destructive Invasive Species
- 7 Insects You’ll Be Eating in the Future
- Beastly Feasts: Amazing Photos of Animals and Their Prey
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Honor Role: Cell Phones for Soldiers
A daily staple in our lives is the cell phone. Whether you use it for calling, texting, gaming, selfies, or social media – it’s always there.
One organization knows the importance of this modern tool and wanted to make sure that deployed soldiers do not feel this void in their lives. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a nonprofit dedicated to getting those serving free communication services.
“One morning before school, my sister Brittany and I were watching the morning news with our parents,” recalls Robbie Bergquist, a co-founder of Cell Phones for Soldiers. “We heard the story of a local soldier returning from Iraq with an almost $8,000 phone bill.”
This news piece slammed the young kids into reality. “Our cousin had recently been deployed and the story really hit home for us,” he remembers, as they eventually had two cousins stationed overseas down the line. “How could a man who was serving his country not be able to call his family for free?”
The two youngsters decided to make a difference. They took all the money they had in their piggy banks, scrounged up extra lunch money and even put on a car wash to send money to the man they saw on TV.
“Our greatest educational voice at that time came from our parents,” Robbie says of starting the program with his sister, when they were just 12 and 13 years old. “They instilled in us that it was important to think of others before we thought of ourselves.”
From that point as kids to this very day, Cell Phones for Soldiers has exponentially grown. With three staff members, thousands of volunteers and over 3,900 recycled cell phone drop off locations, their childhood goal has become a big resource to the military.
“My role with the charity is as co-founder and director,” he tells us, here at VA Home Loan Centers. “Along with my sister Brittany, we travel both nationally and internationally for media appearances, speaking engagements and work with our current and new potential partners to promote Cell Phones For Soldiers so that we can continue to assist military members.”
“Servicemen and women are so humble, and unbelievably appreciative,” Robbie said. His favorite story was of a sailor on board an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic who had received phone cards from the organization so they could call home. “The sailor told us that listening to our story overwhelmed him with emotion, bringing him to leave the room. Worried about being seen crying, the sailor walked outside to gather his emotions and looked around to find many other sailors sharing his feeling.”
Robbie says that shipping costs can be a real struggle for the organization. “We’re always grateful for each and every donated device, but even more delighted when supporters are able to take the extra step and pay for shipping as well.”
Cell Phones for Soldiers is always looking for new evangelists to help spread the word and contribute to the cause. “Supporters can keep up with the latest on Cell Phones For Soldiers by signing up for ournewsletter here.”
“During National Military Appreciation Month, we along with our friends at KIND Snacks are asking for help in thanking our troops and veterans for their sacrifice and bravery,” Robbie states. From this point through May 31st, he asks that those on Twitter use the hashtag #thankskindly and thank the military with the trend topic.
“Robots will then transform the tweets into physical, handwritten notes and we’ll deliver the notes to deserving heroes worldwide,” he continued. You can see how the robots do it here:http://www.kindsnacks.com/thankskindly/.
Brittany and Robbie are both grateful for the chance to thank those who have served. “We have grown up with the opportunity to meet thousands of active duty military members and veterans,” Robbie proclaimed. “We are so proud to have created something that supports them in a small way for all that they do for us.”
Want information on VA Home Loan? Visit: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-hlc-home-loan-info/. Check out your other government home loan options, like the FHA Home Loan:https://www.fedhomeloan.org/apply-for-a-mortgage/ and the USDA Home Loan:https://www.fedhomeloan.org/usda-home-loan-information-resources/.
A burglary suspect broke down in tears in the dock when the judge recognised him as a former schoolmate and said he had been the “best kid” in school.
Booth, 49, was arrested on Monday after being spotted driving a car that matched the description of one allegedly involved in a robbery and failing to stop after a police officer signalled him to.
A police chase followed, resulting in two accidents before he crashed the car.
He fled on foot but was eventually caught and charged with various offences.
When he was taken into court, the judge looked at him for a moment or two and then asked: “Did you go to Nautilus?”
“Oh my goodness,” replied Booth several times, at first with smiles and then breaking down in tears.
“I’m sorry to see you here,” replied Judge Glazer. “I always wondered what happened to you.”
“This was the nicest kid in middle school,” she told the court. “He was the best kid in middle school. I used to play football with him, all the kids, and look what has happened.”
“What’s sad is how old we’ve become,” she continued before finishing the conversation with: “Good luck to you, sir, I hope you are able to come out of this OK and just lead a lawful life.”
The judge set Booth’s bond at $43,000 (£27,500).
Everyone Loses In This Python vs. Porcupine Battle
The life of a python in South Africa came to a thorny end last week.
A mountain biker at the Lake Eland Game Reserve in a coastal part of KwaZulu-Natal province reportedly spotted the snake with a full belly on June 14. Last Saturday, the snake — of which there are some graphic photos below — was found dead not far from the original sighting.
Experts at the game preserve autopsied the python and discovered a 32-inch, 30-pound porcupine inside of it.
While a snake swallowing a spiky porcupine whole may sounds like a classic case of mutually assured destruction, it’s actually not that uncommon.
“The porcupine did not injure the snake at all and eating the porcupine should not have caused the snake to die,” Lake Eland Game Reserve general manager Jennifer Fuller told The Huffington Post in an email. “The real cause of death is unknown.”
She said the stress from human interaction may have prompted the snake to try to regurgitate the porcupine but it got stuck.
Fuller said the snake fell off a rocky ledge, according to The Telegraph, but it was unclear if the snake was already dead when it did or if the fall caused some of the quills to puncture its digestive tract.
US Falls in World Happiness Rankings
Panama tops the rankings of the world’s happiest countries for the second year in a row, according to a new report.
In 2014, people living in the Central American country known for it’s man-made canal scored the highest on a yearly survey of global well-being created by Gallup-Healthways. In contrast, Afghanistan scored the lowest out of the 145 ranked countries.
In the sur
In Panama, 53 percent of residents were thriving in at least three aspects of their well-being — the highest percentage of all the countries surveyed. Part of the reason for Panama’s high ranking may be that people there, and in Latin America in general, tend to reportexperiencing positive emotions more often, and negative emotions less, compared with people in other parts of the world, said Dan Witters, research director at Gallup-Healthways. Panama also had a growing economy in 2014, and is relatively politically stable.
The other countries in the top 10, ranked by the percentage of people who were thriving in three or more aspects of well-being, were:
- Costa Rica: 47.6 percent
- Puerto Rico: 45.8 percent
- Switzerland: 39.4 percent
- Belize: 38.9 percent
- Chile: 38.7 percent
- Denmark: 37.0 percent
- Guatemala: 36.3 percent
- Austria: 35.6 percent
- Mexico: 35.6 percent
The lowest ranking country, Afghanistan, had 0 percent of residents thriving in at least three aspects of their well-being, according to the findings. Other countries at the bottom of the rankings included:
- Bhutan: 3 percent
- Cameroon: 3.1 percent
- Togo: 3.9 percent
- Tunisia: 4.0 percent
- Congo Kinshasa: 4.1 percent
- Ivory Coast: 4.5 percent
- Benin: 4.8 percent
- Haiti: 5.3 percent
- Ghana: 5.6 percent
The United States saw a drop in its ranking, falling from the No. 12 spot in 2013 to the No. 23 spot in 2014. However, there was only a small absolute change in the country’s well-being score — it dropped from having 33 percent of its residents thriving in three or more aspects of well-being in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014.
“Overall, the decline in well-being was not substantial, but it was enough to lower [the U.S.] in a list of 145 countries,” Witters said. [World’s Happiest Countries (The List)]
For cultural reasons, there may be some differences among countries in how people interpret the questions asked in the Gallup survey, the researchers noted. However, Gallup takes a number of steps to reduce the effects of misinterpretation, including translating questions so that they are as close to the original meaning as possible, and conducting interviews face-to-face or over the phone, rather than using a paper survey, Witters said.
To some extent, a country’s level of wealth correlates with well-being, but this is only true up to a point, Witters said. For example, Guatemala is a poorer country, yet it scored among the top 10 in overall well-being, he said.
Well-being is an important measure to consider, because studies show that people with higher well-being are healthier, more productive and more resilient in the face of challenges, Gallup says.
“Many countries struggle to achieve high well-being. This represents a huge opportunity for country and community leaders, employers, insurers and any population health stakeholder,” said Peter Choueiri, president of Healthways International. “There are proven interventions that these leaders can and should leverage to improve the health and well-being of their population,” Choueiri said.
For example, community organizations might create volunteering opportunities or walkathons, and encourage people to take part, Witters said. Employers might also find ways to coax people to be healthier, such as providing health insurance incentives, or replacing unhealthy food in the lunchroom with healthy food, he said.
“There’s lots of smart tactical things that organizations can do that can help create this culture of well-being,” Witters said.
vey, researchers asked more than 146,000 people all over the world questions about five aspects of their well-being: their sense of purpose, social relationships, financial situations, community involvement and physical health. Based on their responses, participants were considered “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering” in each of those five aspects.