Baby’s New Friend
Location: Southern New Jersey
September 4, 2010 2:28 pm
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my 8 month old son reaching for this fast-crawling bug! My heart nearly jumped out of my chest as I whisked him away. I don’t want to teach him to be scared of bugs, but don’t know what this is! Please help, so if I see another one I will know whether my fear is justified!
Thank you =)
Signature: Scared Mommy
Dear Scared Mommy,
What we can say for certain is that this is a Centipede and it is not a House Centipede which we tell people is a benign predator that will help keep their homes free of cockroaches and spiders. The legs on your Centipede are too short for it to be a House Centipede. The angle of your photograph with its foreshortening makes it difficult to make out details on the Centipede that might aid in our identification. This may be a Stone Centipede in the order Lithobiomorpha which BugGuide describes as having fifteen pairs of legs. That is the number we get when attempting to count on your photograph. Centipedes have fangs and venom, and though the bite is not deadly, it can be painful. The University of Kentucky Entomology website has a Centipede page with some good information, and a photo of a Stone Centipede. There is also a really nice page on the Stone Centipede on the Backyard Arthropod Project Blog about creatures from Michigan, or more specifically “A Field Guide to the North Side of Old Mill Hill, Atlantic Mine, MI.” We doubt the Stone Centipede would have bitten your son, but in the event he was bitten, there would be little more than a local reaction.
Thank you so much for your thorough response and information! Although I didn’t get a better photo of our centipede, I think your descriptions you sent seem to match what we saw. I am happy to know that the bite is not deadly, but will still try to find better playmates for our baby!