Subject: Rhysida longipes
Geographic location of the bug: Miami, Florida
Time: 01:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: When visiting relatives in Florida last year, I helped my uncle move old boards out of an unused sandbox. Underneath one board there was a pile of large, greenish centipedes that scattered as they were uncovered. As an invertebrate enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for new species of arthropod to observe, capture, and/or breed, so I had a container handy and was able to capture a 3-4″ specimen that was slower than the rest. There weren’t any containers large enough to house it in safely so I had to use this yellow bucket until I found an appropriate one.
I had hoped to find other centipede species in Florida such as S. viridis or S. longipes, but this one was clearly neither of those. After a bit of research I learned that R. longipes is an adventive species originally native to Africa and Asia that has now colonized Florida and Mexico as well. I thought I’d send this in so people could properly identify common giant centipedes, as many pictures of R. longipes from Florida are mistakenly identified as Scolopendra and Hemiscolopendra on other sites.
As for the specimen I caught, she is now comfortably living in captivity and has regrown some of the lost antennomeres since these photos were taken.
How you want your letter signed: lawnshrimp
Thanks for sending your images of the introduced African Longtail Centipede, a name we located on FlickR where it states: “Though this exotic species has been found on occasion in Florida, all but one incidence was of solitary animals and it has never been considered an established part of the Florida fauna. Late in 2014, while on a scientific collecting trip to south Florida, we came across a large population of this species, which included juveniles through adults, on one of the main Keys. The animals had never been recorded from this area. Later that same evening, we located a large adult just outside of the Everglades National Park, representing an additional locality for this taxon. We wrote up a brief communication for this new, established member of the south Florida ecosystem for the Florida Entomologist which is currently in review.” We also found your images posted to Arachnoboards. Whenever we learn of an introduced species into an ecosystem, we are concerned that native species might be displaced due to larger or more aggresive introductions.