Luminescent centripede

Fire Centipede and glowing slime

Luminescent centripede
Location:  Fougamou, Gabon 1°13`S 10°36`E
September 19, 2010 5:19 am
Hello,
during a stay in Gabon I took this picture of a centripede. After contact he showed this green fluorescence.
Do you know how it is called?
Kind regards
Signature:  Fabian

Fire Centipede

Hi Fabian,
We had never heard of a Centipede that exhibited bioluminescence, so we hit the search engines in an attempt to answer your questions.  Surprisingly, the Orkin website had this information:  “The so-called ‘fire centipede’ is a name used to refer to any centipede that exhibits bioluminescence. Often nocturnal, bioluminescent centipedes are uncommon and are not associated with any particular habitat.  One fire centipede of repute is widely distributed in tropical Asia and Africa. Known to be the Orphaneus brevilabiatus, the said fire centipede would look something akin to a necklace of precious jewels if one were to come across it on a moonless night.  A certain chemical substance secreted by the fire centipede produces this bioluminescence. The light appears to come from the secretions of two luminous patches near the ends of each segment of the centipede’s body. The source of the light is beneath the body of the insect and can be made out through the exterior.  Another centipede that glows in the dark is the Geophilus electricus. This fire centipede is long and yellowish in color. Other than centipedes, millipedes also glow. Endemic to the Sierra Nevada of California, the species of millipedes designated as Luminodesmus sequoiae is known to emit light at night. From the moment they hatch, these millipedes glow. The source of their light is embedded in the deeper layers of their integument. Their luminescence is continuous, with no voluntary control.
”  Our next stop was the Photochemistry and Photobiology page of the Wiley Online Library where the Biochemistry of Centipede Bioluminescense by James Michael Anderson was profiled along with this information:  “The centipede (Orphaneous brevilabiatus) secretes a bioluminescent slime. The corrected emission spectrum of this luminescence was found to have maxima at about 510 and 480 nm. The reaction was found to require both a luciferin and luciferase and showed an unusually low pH optimum (4.6). Oxygen was required for the reaction, but oxygen could interact with one of the components allowing for anaerobic light emission.”  In an online article entitled Animals that use Bioluminescence by N. David, the author writes:  “Some varieties of centipede, known collectively as fire centipedes, are also bioluminescent.”  A message board on the Wild About Britain website has an interesting dialog that refers to a Centipede that may be in the genus Geophilus.  We were now satisfied that you actually encountered a bioluminescent Centipede which dispelled our first thought that somehow your camera captured a stray light source or that the digital photo file was somehow corrupted.  We eventually found a photo of Geophilus carpophagus on the Natural England website where its bioluminescence was mentioned, and it does seem to resemble your specimen, but we are reluctant to provide any genus or species identification for you, preferring instead to have a chilopodist (could that be the name given to a centipede expert?) supply that information instead.  We hope the more generic common name Fire Centipede will satisfy your curiosity.

Dear Daniel,
thank you very much for your quick and extensive answer!

Location: Fougamou, Gabon

16 Responses to Fire Centipede from Gabon secretes Bioluminescent Slime

  1. Ben says:

    Hi I live in not so sunny England UK and found a centipede that looked as if it was glowing this being in England seemed unusual so I was just wanderings what the likelyhood is to come across something so strange

  2. Aaruney Rahul says:

    I have a video proof also. Don’t blame me of being cruel, it was in my bed and had no choice but to kill it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kXeD7UavJ4

  3. Aaruney Rahul says:

    I have a video proof also. Don’t blame me of being cruel, it was in my bed and had no choice but to kill it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kXeD7UavJ4

  4. Aaruney Rahul says:

    I live in Chennai,India. and feel such things are hard to encounter in india.

  5. Sreedeepthi says:

    I live in Kerala , India. yesterday I met the same centipede near my bed.. It also emitted green fluorescent substance.. couldn’t take the photo as my two little kids were beside me.. I am really surprised to see its photo in this site.. will you please tell me whether it is poisonous or not..

  6. Abhishek says:

    Hi, I am from Central India and I have found the same. I was horrified to see green glow when it came in contact with water and then same when it came in contact with heat. It glows only at a particular place rather than whole body.
    The one I saw was almost 12-15 cm long.

  7. Abhishek says:

    Hi, I am from Central India and I have found the same. I was horrified to see green glow when it came in contact with water and then same when it came in contact with heat. It glows only at a particular place rather than whole body.
    The one I saw was almost 12-15 cm long.

  8. Tim says:

    I live in Chiang Mai Thailand and just encountered on of these which prompted a search. I have lived here for 3 years and this is the first one that I have ever seen. It was crawling up my kitchen wall at night. It was 10 cm in length. I am very skeptical of centipedes since I know that centipedes are venomous and millipedes are poisonous.

  9. Blake Bussell says:

    Saw one small one glowing today in DIani Beach KEnya today in a cabinet thought it a baby snake at first. Maybe four inches long very thin, had to really look to see the legs. When touched it admitted a glowing free substance.

  10. Nuwan says:

    Once I saw it, I touched it and I could see the green light from his body

  11. Buland Khan says:

    Hi, just saw one few minutes back in bhadrak district of odisha. It was climbing a wall. But i wasn’t the same you posted in the pic. The one i encountered was very thin and about 8cm long , when I poked it with a small stick green luminous liquid came out of it. And it could move in both directions forward and backward like it had 2 heads. When I rushed to get the phone it disappeared.

  12. Akshay Vilasrao Mohod says:

    Hi, i seen this centipede today.
    I was surprised by seeing that insect. My mobile torch was off & suddenly i saw something is glowing. When i turn on the torch its a long centipede.

  13. Garilao, Mark Brian says:

    You might not believe me but, this bug has been on my shoulders. It was really dark because I’m about to sleep, then I feel something moving on my shoulders. I try to threw it away because I thought it was nothing then when I saw my hand, part of it glows. That’s when I look up cause I thought it was some saliva of an alien. Ahahaha. But when I turn of the lights again I saw the same glow on my floor. When I’ve turn it on again, I saw this bug. And that’s how I came here.

  14. Jean says:

    I am from Mindanao, Philippines. This is a common household arthropod, mainly because of the house structure build mostly with walls from woven bamboos which makes them easier to hide. In there, the local word for this is tipal-o. They excretes this neon green substance when they are wounded, so it kinda resembles as their blood.

    Further note: They terrifies me the most!

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