Currently viewing the category: "Centipedes"
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I have been searching the web to see if I could find out what these weird, ugly bugs are that we have seen in our house. Alex wrote to you on 6/2/02 and describe the exact things we have. These bugs were NOT on the links you had attached. We live in Raleigh, NC. The bugs are FAST! I mean you see them and then they are gone. I thought is was some form of millipede or centipede, but I haven’t been able to close enough to one to find out. They have MORE than 8 legs and the legs are at least two jointed because they hold the bug up off the ground like a spider more than a centipede or millipede. They are between 2 and 4 inches long. The legs are slender and black and I honestly haven’t seen too much of the body except that it is thin, almost like it is only there to attach the legs. Thanks for any help you can give us.

Dear Liana,
I have contacted our local Museum of Natural History, and the entomologist I spoke with is also stumped. However, he did foreward this contact person in your area who might be able to assist in your identification. The really confusing part of your description is the size of your creature. 4-5 inches is huge, not for the tropics, but for the continental U.S. at least. The only possibility I have if your description is accurate, is that somehow you have acquired an exotic import that is happy with its new environment, and that is reproducing and moving with you from house to house, perhaps when you pack. Has either you or your roommate been to the Amazon, Sub-Saharan Africa, or Tropical Asia? Something fitting your description could originate in any of those places. Please keep us informed if you ever get a proper identification, or better yet, send us a photo of the creature if possible. You might also want to write to www.cryptozoology.com because those folk specialize in strange sightings. Here is the reply I got from Brian at the Natural History Museum:

Hi Daniel
Thanks for sending the letters. There is a guy in North Carolina who specializes in Millipedes named Rowland Shelley. He’s at the North Carolina State Museum (at least as of 1998) P.O.Box 27647, Raleigh 27611. Unfortunately I don’t have a phone number or e-mail but perhaps a website for this college will list his number(s) or someone there can forward these messages to him, etc… That’s all I could come up with for now! GOOD LUCK!! Brian Harris ___________________________________
Brian P. Harris
Entomology Section
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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Please look at the attached picture. I live in VA and these are in my house. I used to think these were silverfish because the smaller ones don’t have such large legs/antennae…but I really have no idea what they are.
Thanks for your time!
Mike
What’s That Bug? is cleaning house, posting images that slipped through the cracks, and we though you would enjoy Mike’s photo of a house centipede.

I think they are called house cenitpedes. And from what I read on the net, they can "?bite/sting?" people. But they are normally very shy and fast.

Dear Liana,
House centipedes do not get four inches long, but often things are not the size they appear. Also, your initial letter from Alex said they were not house centipedes, so I never even suggested that possibility since I thought he was certain your creatures were not house centipedes. House centipedes have about 15 pairs of legs, and the final pair are elongated. They are not harmful, and are actually beneficial as they devour unwanted insects.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

(The Creatures
June2, 2002
) Hello Bug Person,
I saw your site and thought maybe you could help me and my roommate out. We have creatures. That’s what we call them, because they are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. In the last three places we’ve lived, we have seen the Creatures in our basement. They are similar to centipedes in that they are long, have many legs, and are creepy. But that’s where the similarities end. Centipedes are flattened with legs that look like this ^ with one joint, but these Creatures have 2 joints, like spider legs. They don’t have as many as a centipede but definitely more than 8. The legs are generally the same size too, not different lengths like a house centipede. they don’t have the front “fangs” like a centipede but a mandible similar to a spider’s – no antenae no little butt feelers. And they come in 3 different colors. I’ve seen very large ones (4-5 inches), black with white spots; others were just as big but dark brown; and just the other day, in our new duplex, we found a little one maybe 2-3 inches long and light brown. They are very fast and i even hit one with a book, cutting off its lower half, and the rest of it got away. Yeah, these things are evil. Nobody knows what these things are. We’ve had hunters, floridians, Arizonians, and other self-proclaimed bug experts, but we always get the same thing: a hideous blank stare and lonely nights in our basement. Can you tell me what the creatures are?

Alex,
Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Scream Alex, scream for your life.  You have Tinglers living in your basement.  Barring the possibility that the horrific monster from the 50’s horror flick starring Vincent Price is in your basement, following you from house to house, I can think of several additional possibilities, though none seems to exactly fit your description.
Possibility #1 is the hellgrammite, the larval form of the dobson fly.  These four inch long creepy crawlies normally live in or near streams, but we have heard reports of them being found in basements.  Check out this website to see if the hellgrammite is your culprit. http://www.watersheds.org/blue/nature/gallery2/
pages/hellgramite.htm

Possibility #2 would be a sun spider or wind scorpion from the family Solpugidae.  They move quickly, and can be found in basements, though I haven’t heard of any American species quite as large as the creature you describe.  They are closely related to other arthropods called vinegaroons.
Possibility #3 would be a different type of centipede.  Scolopendra polymorpha is a six inch long species of centipede that resides within the continental U.S.   You can locate a photo of it and of the sun spider on this website.  http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/USInsects/
Arthropods.html

I shudder to think that we here at What’s That Bug have entered the ranks of hunters, floridians or Arizonians with blank stares, but without more concrete information, perhaps a photograph or a drawing, and some hint of your coordinates on the globe, we’ve run out of possible id’s.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Here is a letter we just love, and the original exchange can be found on the Hellgrammite page.


Hello Bug Person,
i saw your site and thought maybe you could help me and my roommate out. We have creatures . That’s what we call them, because they are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. In the last three places we’ve lived, we have seen the Creatures in our basement.
They are similar to centipedes in that they are long, have many legs, and are creepy. But that’s where the similarities end. Centipedes are flattened with legs that look like this ^ with one joint, but these Creatures have 2 joints, like spider legs. They don’t have as many as a centipede but definitely more than 8. The legs are generally the same size too, not different lengths like a house centipede. they don’t have the front "fangs" like a centipede but a mandible similar to a spider’s – no antenae-no little butt feelers. And they come in 3 different colors. I’ve seen very large ones (4-5 inches), black with
white spots; others were just as big but dark brown; and just the other day, in our new duplex, we found a little one maybe 2-3 inches long and light brown. They are very fast and i even hit one with a book, cutting off its lower half, and the rest of it got away. Yeah, these things are evil. Nobody knows what these things are. We’ve had hunters, floridians, Arizonians, and other self-proclaimed bug experts, but we always get the same thing: a hideous blank stare and lonely nights in our basement. Can you tell me what the creatures are?

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear Bugman,
While working late one night in a soundstage in Long Beach area, my collegues and I were startled to find this creature crawling across the floor (and right thriugh our shot, no less!). Most of us had never seen such a thing, although I’ve come across them from time to time. I had always thought they were Silverfish, but the others disagreed. the body was about 4 to 5 centimeters long, and it moved remarkebly fast when provoked.

Please help us!

thank you,

Tomas Arceo


Dear Tomas Arceo,

This is one of our commonest What’s That Bug? identifications. It is a house centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata. Thanks for the great photo. They are active, fast, and eat other intruders, hence they are beneficial and should not be harmed. Silverfish are another matter, and should be
eradicated.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination