What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: scared to find this in house!
Location: Northern California
December 20, 2014 10:02 pm
Hello bugman – was just putting daughter to bed when she saw this crawling down the wall right behind her pillow! She said, “What is that?”
It went fairly easily into the cup and I was able to toss it outside where the spiders go . . . but I am wondering whether it’s a centipede, millipede, or something else? And should I be worried or is it harmless? Sorry if this is repetitive for you but to me this is completely new! Just for info I am in the suburbs of the East San Francisco Bay Area in California.
Thank you so much!
Signature: Dee

Soil Centipede

Soil Centipede

Dear Dee,
This appears to be a Soil Centipede in the order Geophilomorpha, and according to BugGuide they are:  “Slender, rather sluggish eyeless centipedes that have 27 to 191 pairs (the number of leg pairs is always odd) of legs and 14-segmented antennae. They burrow in the substrate in a manner similar to earthworms, by elongating and contracting their bodies.”
  According to MOBugs:  “No need to fear these centipedes, as they will not bite humans, and have no toxic venom to harm us even if they could. They prey on many harmful beetle larvae and help aerate the soil, much like earthworms do. Their rapid movements and subterranean habitat can make them a bit unnerving, but like all insects and their relatives, they have their purpose in the environment, and these guys are fun to watch!”  According to SFGate:  “Soil centipedes (geophilomorpha) are very small and possess many pairs of legs, often exceeding 60 pairs. These centipedes live in the ground, where they prey on subterranean insects. They are completely harmless.”  We don’t want to give the appearance of sensationalism, but we don’t want to discount the possibility of a Soil Centipede seeking shelter in a nasal passage, ear canal or other orifice, which we believe would be a very unlikely situation, however we did uncover some interesting information when we posted this account of a Soil Centipede.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: California

9 Responses to Soil Centipede

  1. Aren’t they always under the pillow or somewhere in the bed! Good luck with going to sleep!

  2. Katherine says:

    I just found one of these in my bed when I turned the covers down for the night. It has been raining a lot lately here in Vermont. Is lots of rain likely to drive them inside? Where one is found outside of their normal habitat, are more likely to be found? Is there any kind of group communication as with ants?

  3. Katherine says:

    I found one of these in my bed when I went to turn down the covers night before last. The bedrooms are on the second floor of the house. Could/would the rain drive them inside? We have had a lot of rain in Vermont over the past couple of weeks and non stop moderately heavy rain for hours the day I found the centipede in my bed. Where there is one soil centipede outside of its normal habitat, are there likely to be more? Do they have a way of communicating with one another — like ants?

    • bugman says:

      We suspect this was the result of an accidental introduction. We don’t know of any studies on centipede communication.

  4. Bea says:

    found what you describe as a soil centipede in my bathtub this morning. Cannot imagine how it got there unless through the plumbing? It was not there when I took my shower the previous morning. Long, many legs, reddish color. Moves much as a snake does with that slithering motion looping its body around sideways. Active.

  5. Sue from VA Beach says:

    I just found one of these on my pillow when I went to make the bed this a.m. Seems odd to me I’m seeing several posts across the internet that has these on or near beds. I’ve captured him and he’s currently in a little jar… wish I knew where to take him for a definitive answer on what he is. I just came back from Guam a month ago and hope I didn’t bring anything back!

  6. alicia henry says:

    i found one in my bathroom I scoped him or her up and put him or her out side then I finshed my busness im in texas so i guess ther not just in calforna i hope thy dont come in pairs

  7. Trudy says:

    I live in PA and found one of these in a second floor bathroom. Scared me when I noticed it moving as I thought it was some grass I brought in from when I was pulling weeds.

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