About the centipede, the different forms of this animal, and about the worms with many feet.
Translated by Paola Castañeda ’22
There are many types of centipedes in this island of Hispaniola; some are as long and as skinny as a finger, like those in Spain, but these bite and cause a lot of pain. There are others that are more poisonous, and these are smaller yet wider, hairy, and fiercer, with colorful red heads. Others, although they are colorful and hairy, have black heads and stripes or black lines running down the length of their body; these are the worst of all. There are many more worms of different kinds with many feet, but these are not always around. They can only be found when it rains and it is warmer than usual, and after it rains they cannot be found; but when they appear they eat the cornfields and damage the crops. There are other worms as long as half a finger and thin with many legs, and they glow at night and illuminate wherever they pass, and they can be seen from fifty or a hundred steps away; the entire worm doesn’t glow but rather the junctures where the legs come out of the body, and the glow is very bright. There are other worms that are very similar to these in size and in the way they glow, but they have one great difference: the head glows in the same way, but the light from the head is very bright and red, like burning embers.
In this city of Santo Domingo I have seen many times some centipedes as long or longer than a span and as wide as a finger, and it is true that on sight they seem very dangerous. They are hairy and have dark tawny stripes from where their legs come out, and the legs, horns and body are a darker yellowish color. I have not heard any complaints about their bite, despite their looking so scary; and I wouldn’t want to see one, because although they are not dangerous, they look as if you cannot expect anything but bad things from them, and that their bite will be worse than that of the others. They are often found in the houses of this city, but as I said I have never heard of them biting anyone.