Currently viewing the category: "Centipedes"
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Subject:  Strange Bug
March 10, 2013
Hi Daniel, friend found this when he was draining his pool. I know you’ll know what it is.
Hope you’re well.
Laura Gutierrez

Multicolored Centipede

Multicolored Centipede

Hi Laura,
This appears to be a Multicolored Centipede,
Scolopendra polymorpha.  Where is your friend’s pool?

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Subject: giant centipede in Dominican Republic
Location: Dominican Republic
February 18, 2013 6:26 pm
I encountered this amazing critter in Jaragua Park, Dominican Rep, back in 2007. I can see it’s a ”giant” centipede but searches on the net have just left me confused as to species. Regardless, it was a pretty cool animal – huge!!
On the same trip I also came across this rather fabulous looking snail shell (I can’t recall whether it was occupied) – very striking. Land snail, tree snail?
(Incidentally, this is a great site for bugs and such, but do you know of a similar site for attempting to ID herps??)
Paul Prior
Signature: Paul Prior

Caribbean Giant Centipede

Hi Paul,
Most Giant Tropical Centipedes are in the genus
Scolopendra, and searching for that, we found this image of Scolopendra alternans from Haiti on iNaturalist.  Another iNaturalist page places it in the Bahamas and Haiti.  BugGuide lists some Florida sightings as well.  Vladimir Dinets websiteindicates the common name is Caribbean Giant Centipede.

Caribbean Giant Centipede


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Subject: Worm found in my 10 month old daughter
Location: Davie, FL
February 14, 2013 9:34 am
Hi there,
Two days ago we had our kids in our pool and the baby who is 10 months old was crawling around on the top shelf of the pool. She had no diaper on and I noticed something kind of hanging out of her rear end. Upon closer inspection my husband and I realized it looked like a worm! He pulled it out and a worm about 4 inches came out. I took her to the ER with the worm (my husband put it in a plastic solo cup for me). They gave her some medicine to treat tape worms although, they all said they never saw this type of worm and half the staff was convinced its not a tape worm. I don’t think it is either. They kept the worm and sent it to pathology to be tested, and they still haven’t figured out what it is. She passed one more in her poop, smaller and dead that night when we came home. Nothing else since that I’ve seen. She hasn’t been out of the country. Has never been outside on the grass. She only eats baby food out of the jar and her formula is a hypoal lergenic formula as she has a severe milk protein allergy. The only animals shes been near is our 2 dogs (whom I should mention spend a great deal of time outside with our neighbors horses and with our African spur thighed tortoise). She’s never been near our tortoise. The dogs unfortunately do eat the horses and tortoises poop sometimes :-/. She has on occasion gotten a hold of their dog food bowls and gotten a piece or two in her mouth. We’ve actually relocated their bowls to an area she cannot get to before this even happened. For over a week now she’s had diarrhea, loss of appetite and has been more sleepy then usual. She has been rather cranky as well, which is all very out of character for her. I hope you can help us out. We’re concerned as you can imagine and just want to know what this is.
Signature: Concerned Mommy

Centipede or Intestinal Worm

Dear Concerned Mommy,
We are not qualified to deal with medical issues, and we believe you have done the right thing in seeking professional assistance in this matter, however, we will offer you our opinion.  The creature in the photo you supplied looks like a Centipede and not an intestinal parasite.  The appendages like legs and antennae are far too developed for an intestinal parasite.  We suspect your infant somehow encountered a Centipede that fell in the pool.  As far as her lethargy goes, we suspect that might have to do with the medication.  We would suggest you contact the ER to see if the medication they gave her would lead to her symptoms.  You should also take the second organism she passed for professional analysis.  We might be wrong on this matter, but we are giving you our opinion.

Thanks for the quick response, I really appreciate it. The lethargy and other symptoms began prior to discovering the worm and before taking the medication. The worm/centipede was literally pulled out of her anus (so sorry for bring so graphic). The smaller piece you see was what was hanging out of her rear, when my husband pulled it broke off. He grabbed the other piece that was hanging out of her rear and the longer piece is what he pulled out of her. I’d changed her diaper before then and there was nothing there. She was on the pool shelf just minutes before I saw it and she was right next to me. I can’t imagine it crawled up in her that fast without me noticing? Do you think iymt crawled in her?

Dear Concerned Mommy,
We are speechless on this matter.  We would love a followup email when the pathology report on the critter comes back.

Update:  Soil Centipedes reportedly passed through human gastrointestinal system
This is a real long shot, but it is not entirely unheard of to have passed centipedes. It is thought that they may be ingested along with vegetable matter. Geophilus carpophagus has been removed from humans before, and it lookd fairly similar to the one in the picture. Check out the book “Sanitary Entomology” by William Dwight Pierce. It’s an old one, but it covers a few accounts like this. I’d never have thought it possible if I didn’t read it myself. It seems that the species in Geophilus are the most “common.”

Dear sccabrian,
Thank you for this fascinating bit of information.  According to BugGuide, the Soil Centipede order is Geophilomorpha, but BugGuide does not recognize the genus you mentioned.  The book was published in 1923, so there are most likely significant taxonomy changes since that time.  We did a web search of “Geophilus sanitary entomology pierce” and we were led to page 490 where the following information is provided in columns:  “Disease …  Pseudoparasitism of nasal and alimentary passages by centipedes;  Causative organism …
Chaetechelyne vesuviana, Geophilus carphophagus, Geophilus cephalicus, Geophilus electricus, Geophilus similis, Himantarium gervaisi, Julus londinensis, Julus terrestria, Lithobium forficatus, Lithobius melanops Polydemus complanatus, Scutigera coleoptrata, Stigmatogaster subterraneus;  Insect transmitter … Same as preceding. [note Blatta orientalis]; Method of insect transmissions … Inflammation is caused in the nasal and alimentary passages due to the accidental entrance of centipedes, probably during sleep or in fresh vegetable foods.  Nature of Insect role … Direct attack.”  The book does not indicate if the Soil Centipedes are able to pass through the G.I. tract alive, but we seriously doubt it.  We cannot understand why “Same as preceding” in the Insect transmitter column has any relationship to Blatta orientalis, the Oriental Cockroach except that perhaps Cockroaches might also create problems if they are eaten.  Thank you so much for providing this information.  We don’t know what Concerned Mommy’s doctors will be able to do with it though.  If our understanding is correct, eating a Soil Centipede can cause Pseudoparasitism or false parasitism which is an inflammation of the alimentary passages.  For many years we have been claiming that House Centipedes are perfectly harmless, but the obsolete scientific name for the House Centipede is   Scutigera coleoptrata and it is on the list of causative organisms.  We will have to caution our readership that House Centipedes might crawl up their butts.  Sanitary Entomology seems to imply that introduction of Centipedes into the alimentary passages might occur from either end, “probably during sleep.” 

Update:  February 17, 2013
Oh my goodness Daniel :-/
To think that thing crawled up her nose inside of her. How terribly sad. I guess on the bright side (if you can call it that), its better than worms in her body. The hospital lab still does not have the pathology report! I spoke to them on Friday and they are just at a loss for what to say or do. They asked me to call back and check with them next week. As soon as that report comes back, I’ll be more than happy to share the findings with you.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to look further into this for me, and for communicating with me on such an odd occurrence.
Have a great Sunday!

You are most welcome Carolina

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Tropical Centiped on St. Kitt’s
Location: St Kitt’s, West Indies
January 15, 2013 10:25 am
I go to veterinary school on the island of St. Kitt’s in the caribbean. We have quite a few of these beasties here; they supposedly have a pretty painful bite and often get into people’s houses: I’ve had two in the last two days actually. Usually I put them back outside, especially since people say that if you cannot kill them instantaneously they will fight back! I don’t like killing bugs for no reason though so like I said I typically put them outside. Locals here use a chemical called BOP which is actually banned in the USA… I don’t use it because it is so toxic you have to leave your home for a few hours after spraying and the residue is quite persistent. Anyway, the centipedes are quite notorious around here for biting people in the night after getting into their beds. A professor here knew a student who was bitten on his unmentionables! Local folklore says that if you find a mother centipede with eggs or baby centipedes, you or som eone you know is pregnant!
Signature: L Rose

Tropical Centipede

Dear L Rose,
Thank you for your amusing anecdotes.  We posted an email a while back from a young lady who found a Desert Tiger Centipede in her panties and we can only surmise that Tropical Centipedes like warm spots, hence their fondness for entering beds on St Kitts.  The folklore about finding a mother centipede is also amusing since almost everyone knows of at least one expectant mother at any given time.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this bug
Location: Branson West, MO
September 24, 2012 11:47 pm
This bug was very big and looked like it had a very hard shell… I’ve never see one but it is very colorful….
Signature: GrandPaula

Giant Red Headed Centipede

Dear GrandPaula,
This is a Giant Red Headed Centipede,
Scolopendra heros, and we were surprised to get your report from Missouri, which we thought was north of the typical range.  Most of our reports are from Oklahoma and Texas.  Bugguide does have previous reports from Missouri.  The Giant Red Headed Centipede is a venomous creature, and though it is not generally considered dangerous, the bite is reported to be quite painful.  BugGuide does have this interesting information on the bite of Centipedes in the genus Scolopendra.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Requesting Postive ID
Location: Kenya, Rift Valley
August 20, 2012 2:38 pm
Hello, this guy actually fell from my ceiling missing my shoulder by about 5”. Its winter here in Kenya. I suspect it’s an Amazonian centipede, but what do I know?
Thanks so much,
Signature: J. Tinsman

Flag Tailed Centipede

Dear J. Tinsman,
This is a Tropical Centipede in the order Scolopendromorpha.  Beyond that, we cannot say much without doing some research except we would bet it is native to Kenya and not Amazonian.  Those terminal legs are quite impressive.  With regards to the order, according to BugGuide:  “They can bite and also pinch with their last pair of legs. Bites may cause intense pain, swelling, discoloration, numbness, and necrosis, and require medical assistance, although there are no really dangerous, deadly centipedes, and no confirmed human fatalities.”  We located an Arachnophiles forum and found a very similar looking Centipede identified as  
Alipes sp. and containing this information:  “Adult female, around 4” long. I think this can be a Alipes grandidieri (possibly a A. g. integer) but I am not sure. Very cool species however! They can make a ratteling/hissing sound with their terminal legs almost like a rattle snake. This girl hissed at me twice when I poked her to get out in her new home.”  The German language Fatal Technology website has a similar photo, but we do not read German and we do not recognize any words that look like the country where it might have originated.  The species is called the Flag Tailed Centipede on Flickr, but again, no country of origin.  Exotic Pets indicates:  “The Fan Tailed, also known as Flag Tailed Centipede inhabits areas of Africa like Tanzania and Uganda.”  We hit the jackpot with the Exotic Pet Shop care sheet that had this information:  “The Flag tail centipede is a five inch long slate grey species with red or yellow legs, the last pair of legs are modified with flag – like appendages that as yet have an unknown purpose, and they are a semi communal species that has the ability to hiss when threatened. Unlike most other centipede species it is not as aggressive, but it still has a powerful bite.  They hail from forest regions in Western Africa where they can be found under logs and behind bark during the day, emerging at night to hunt for anything small enough to overpower, including spiders, scorpions and other centipedes.   Females guard the eggs until they hatch, at which point the young are independent and disperse immediately. The females keep the eggs clean and free from mould during the incubation and will not feed themselves until the eggs hatch.”  

Thank you so much for getting back to me, so cool!  Did you see the caterpillar I sent you a few days ago, same e-mail address?
J. Tinsman

We were away from the office when this email arrived and we have not even put a dent in all the requests that arrived during our absence.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination