Flag Tailed Centipede from Kenya

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.

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