BLOG – Kill It With Fire: HK’s Top 5 Most Dreadful Creepy Crawlies 17


HK has at least 6,784 insect species recorded thus far, most of which are fairly benevolent. However, some are less friendly. Below is a horrifying collection of five of HK’s most dread-inducing creepy crawlies…

Nephila Pilipes Golden Golden orb-weaver  – also known as giant wood spiders or banana spiders, they feature a leg span of up to 20cm and often prey on snakes or small birds. They are one of the biggest spiders in the world and, if you fancy a visit to the lovely Lantau Silvermine waterfalls, expect to be absolutely surrounded by gaggles of these nightmarish arachnids. HK’s ‘Jumanji Island’, Tung Ping Chau, is also teeming with the bastards, ready to devour your first-born child…

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Belostomatidae Kirkaldyia deyrolli – also known as giant water bugs or colloquially as toe-biters, electric-light bugs or Alligator Ticks. A popular delicacy in Thailand, Entomological Science journal notes that the water bugs are happy to attack moving prey such as snakes and turtles…

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Om nom nom

Scolopendra giant centipede – the ultimate HK creepy-crawly, if only for their terrifying rapidity and poisonous sting. Invading homes on Cheung Chau, Lantau and occasionally found even on the peninsula, their bites require hospital treatment but are rarely fatal…

Periplaneta americana cockroach – reach for the Raid as HK hosts no less than 31 species of cockroach, 6 species of flea, 78 species of mosquitoes and 124 species of grasshoppers. But the most hated of these must be the dreaded cockroach, to which Hong Kong is home to the largest common invader – the ever-indestructible nuke-proof American roach…

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Naja atra Chinese Coba – more creepy than crawly, this highly aggressive venomous snake can grow to a maximum of 2 metres and remains a top reason to not live on Lantau. It preys on rodents, frogs, toads and other snakes day-and-night. Scientists agree that a bite will seriously ruin your weekend. Punishment ranges from swelling, pain, insensibility, blisters, years-long necrosis, difficulty swallowing, breathing and walking, loss of voice, weakness, lockjaw and, occasionally, death. Last year, authorities found a stash of 789 smuggled cobras and below is a video of a madman on Lantau pissing one off last summer…

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via ‘cowyeow’ on Flickr

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  • Some Dude

    I believe that the image you have for a  ‘huntsman’ is actually a giant golden orbweaver.

    • twgrundy

      Cheers. Corrected.

  • Some Dude

    I believe that the image you have for a  ‘huntsman’ is actually a giant golden orbweaver.

    • Tom

      Cheers. Corrected.

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  • Andreas

    Giant centipedes not only invade Cheung Chau and Lantau. They are quite common in the woods on HK Island.

    The Golden Orb Weaver is of special interest to early morning hikers. If you’re the first on the trail in the morning in late summer and early fall, you learn quickly to hold a stick in front of you or walk repeatedly into webs spun across the convenient open space overnight. On one such occasion, I ended up with a 20cm spider on my head. Thankfully my frantic flailing got her off before she could recover from the shock.

    • Tom

      Yes, we had a similarly traumatising experience on Tung Ping Chau during an early morning hike… Decided to turn back!

      • Andreas

        There are also plenty of six foot plus pythons, and you’ll find them in the middle of urbanized areas.

    • Thibaut

      Yes for the centipede, I just move to tai hang (low basement place) I can see many kind of insects. And I saw a very big centipede… 🙁

  • Andreas

    Giant centipedes not only invade Cheung Chau and Lantau. They are quite common in the woods on HK Island.

    The Golden Orb Weaver is of special interest to early morning hikers. If you’re the first on the trail in the morning in late summer and early fall, you learn quickly to hold a stick in front of you or walk repeatedly into webs spun across the convenient open space overnight. On one such occasion, I ended up with a 20cm spider on my head. Thankfully my frantic flailing got her off before she could recover from the shock.

    • Tom

      Yes, we had a similarly traumatising experience on Tung Ping Chau during an early morning hike… Decided to turn back!

      • Andreas

        There are also plenty of six foot plus pythons, and you’ll find them in the middle of urbanized areas.

    • Thibaut

      Yes for the centipede, I just move to tai hang (low basement place) I can see many kind of insects. And I saw a very big centipede… 🙁

  • The Golden Orb Weavers are the most horrifying to me, and I too have managed to walk straight into a web of one by mistake. Thing was the size of my hand and ran up my leg, catching my attention. I jumped backwards, scaring it and it too jumped backwards. We then had a good half-second of studying each other with abject terror, before I ran one direction and the spider ran the other. *shudder*

    The American cockroaches are a close second for me. I rented a room from an Indian family in Sai Wan Ho briefly at one point, and they had open containers of food stored all over their living room. I have never seen so many cockroaches in one place. On a trip to the bathroom one night, I counted over 25 before I lost count. At one point, in the bathroom, I could see six or more on the walls around me without turning my head.

    And as for the Scolopendra centipedes, those things are completely impossible to destroy. Found one in our house in Clearwater Bay once. Raid (at least, the 1980s formulation) seemed only to mildly annoy them. Clobbering them with a hard-soled shoe did nothing. Don’t remember how we eventually killed it, but I do know that I took it into my then-primary school in a jar, which they filled with formaldehyde and placed in the school library. It was still there years later, no idea whether they still have it. (The school — Kowloon Junior — has since been torn down and rebuilt, so I highly doubt it’s been kept this long.)

    Used to get the Chinese cobras in our garden, too. You’d see them most often in torrential rain, especially if there was a typhoon about, when they’d be on the prowl for somewhere drier. My mom is phobic of snakes, and how she managed to live there after seeing them beats me. We also used to get absolutely gigantic rats — I was told they were hillside rats, but don’t know which species — which used to dig large holes in our garden, and had to be trapped. The only time we’d see them was when they’d been poisoned or trapped, but they were the stuff of nightmares.

    In fact, the only one of these I’m not familiar with is the giant water bug. And had I known of it, I’d probably have found it a lot less fun playing in hillside streams and water catchment areas, as I often did when I was a kid. I’m glad the Internet didn’t exist back then, or at least not as a public network. But on the plus side, it’s been cathartic getting all of these memories out. 😉

  • The Golden Orb Weavers are the most horrifying to me, and I too have managed to walk straight into a web of one by mistake. Thing was the size of my hand and ran up my leg, catching my attention. I jumped backwards, scaring it and it too jumped backwards. We then had a good half-second of studying each other with abject terror, before I ran one direction and the spider ran the other. *shudder*

    The American cockroaches are a close second for me. I rented a room from an Indian family in Sai Wan Ho briefly at one point, and they had open containers of food stored all over their living room. I have never seen so many cockroaches in one place. On a trip to the bathroom one night, I counted over 25 before I lost count. At one point, in the bathroom, I could see six or more on the walls around me without turning my head.

    And as for the Scolopendra centipedes, those things are completely impossible to destroy. Found one in our house in Clearwater Bay once. Raid (at least, the 1980s formulation) seemed only to mildly annoy them. Clobbering them with a hard-soled shoe did nothing. Don’t remember how we eventually killed it, but I do know that I took it into my then-primary school in a jar, which they filled with formaldehyde and placed in the school library. It was still there years later, no idea whether they still have it. (The school — Kowloon Junior — has since been torn down and rebuilt, so I highly doubt it’s been kept this long.)

    Used to get the Chinese cobras in our garden, too. You’d see them most often in torrential rain, especially if there was a typhoon about, when they’d be on the prowl for somewhere drier. My mom is phobic of snakes, and how she managed to live there after seeing them beats me. We also used to get absolutely gigantic rats — I was told they were hillside rats, but don’t know which species — which used to dig large holes in our garden, and had to be trapped. The only time we’d see them was when they’d been poisoned or trapped, but they were the stuff of nightmares.

    In fact, the only one of these I’m not familiar with is the giant water bug. And had I known of it, I’d probably have found it a lot less fun playing in hillside streams and water catchment areas, as I often did when I was a kid. I’m glad the Internet didn’t exist back then, or at least not as a public network. But on the plus side, it’s been cathartic getting all of these memories out. 😉

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