A colossal creepy-crawly catch

  • Clayton Cambra holds up a 14.5 inch centipede he caught in the woods near his home in Honokaa.

  • Clayton Cambra caught a 14.5 inch centipede in the woods near his home in Honokaa. (Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

  • Clayton Cambra holds up a 14.5 inch centipede he caught in the woods near his home in Honokaa. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

HONOKAA — Clayton Cambra is “fascinated by ugly creatures.”

So when the 65-year-old Honokaa resident spotted a huge centipede scurrying about in a wooded area behind his home, he did what someone fascinated by ugly creatures would do. He captured the venomous arthropod with a bucket.

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“He stood up in the 5-gallon bucket like a cobra. Standin’ right up. It’s creepy,” Cambra told the Tribune-Herald Thursday. “He crawled out of that bucket four or five times before I got him here.”

Cambra, a Hawi native who owned a tannery and taxidermy shop in Fremont, Calif., before retiring, then did what comes naturally — at least to him.

“I put it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. Then after it died, I took it out and thawed it. And the next day, I put him on a piece of Styrofoam board and pinned him out and injected him with formaldehyde,” he said.

The gigantic invertebrate measures 14.5 inches from antennae to the tips of its tail-like hind legs.

“It’s a monster. Even when it was dead, I was nervous touchin’ it,” Cambra said.

Dan Rubinoff, an entomologist and director of the University of Hawaii Insect Museum, saw a photo and said he thinks Cambra’s specimen is a Vietnamese centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes).

“It’s definitely got to be the largest individual I’ve ever seen of it,” Rubinoff said. “… I get ’em in my yard all the time, 6 to maybe 7 inches. Definitely, I’ve never seen one that big.”

Rubinoff said there are other species in Southeast Asia that grow even larger, and added, “Those are really frightening.”

Cambra’s catch is displayed in a museum-like room in his home with about 50 trophy specimens.

There are numerous stuffed animals — not of the toy variety — displayed meticulously in a fastidiously clean, dehumidified environment. They include a grizzly bear, a small black bear with front paws at the ready while standing on its hind legs, a mountain lion gazing from a shelf as though surveying prey from a tree limb, an arctic fox, a beaver, raccoon, skunk and numerous birds, including wild turkeys and pheasants.

The room also boasts more mounted heads than grace the walls of most old-school Texas barbecue joints, including several species of deer, elk and wild boar.

The colossal centipede represents something different than the room’s other display items, and Cambra said he rejected a $1,000 offer to part with the creepy-crawly critter.

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“I don’t want to sell it. If I get rid of it, I ain’t got it. I want to keep it,” he explained. “People collect all kinds of things. I know people on the computer (who) collect these alive and keep ’em as pets. I don’t want that damn thing alive.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

  1. Pest Outwest January 28, 2018 8:28 am Reply

    That thing has way too many legs and I don’t like it.


  2. antifaHI January 28, 2018 8:48 am Reply

    Something odd about a local taxidermist happens to find the largest Hawaiian centipede on record right in his backyard. There are bigger ones even in the same box you can buy on Ebay…


  3. rkover January 29, 2018 7:39 am Reply

    Looks a lot like one we had in our house a few years ago in Palolo Valley in Honolulu. We never preserved it though. We could have been famous!


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