Soil Centipede found glowing in bed in England

Subject: Bug found in bed!
Location: Norfolk, England
March 2, 2016 2:14 am
Hi Bugman,
I found this in my bed last night. I woke up at about 3am and I swear I saw something small glowing in the dark under my thin topsheet. I panicked and threw the blanket off, once I turned on the lights I saw this. What is it? How did it get into my apartment situated on the third floor? Will they keep appearing, eggs? This isnt the first time I have found one of these, I found one in my kitchen a few months back but thought nothing of it.
Signature: Scarlett

Soil Centipede
Soil Centipede

Dear Scarlett,
This is not the first posting we have received regarding a bioluminescent Soil Centipede in the order Geophilomorpha.  When we posted images of a Fire Centipede from Gabon, we did much research, but alas, the link to information on
Geophilus carpophagus from the Natural England website appears to be broken and no longer active.  Apheloria has information on a bioluminescent Centipede from Thailand including:  “The centipede … glows … and displays a pair of luminous green spots” and “The genus Orphnaeus, in the order Geophilomorpha, are bioluminescent centipedes that are distributed throughout the Old World Tropics including Africa, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and Hawaii. Orphnaeus (pronounced “orf-nee-us”) is in my opinion a better candidate for the maeng-kah-reaung; however, I’m almost certain they do not crawl into folks’ ears. They do, according to Kim, smell like poop. (That said, If any myriapod is a candidate for crawling into ears, it’s centipedes – as they are fast, flexible, and cunning!)”  EakringBirds has a Centipedes and Millipedes of Nottinghamshire page with a heading “Confirmation of bioluminescence produced by Geophilus easoni” where it states “We also wanted complete confirmation to our initial identification of G. easoni, ending the still scientifically unknown answer to the question, as to precisely which Centipede (or possibly Centipedes) has the ability to create its own bioluminescence. So two specimens were sent to Tony Barber of the British Myriapod and Isopod Study Group, who quickly confirmed that both were indeed Geophilus easoni.  It seems strange that no one had determined bioluminescence in Centipedes before, although G. easoni had been quoted as being bioluminescent by at least one earlier author. The rarity of such reports may have been why no one has spent any time researching the subject.  Three nocturnal path walks in April and May 2013, yielded a total of 20 G. easoni (identification later confirmed before release). Out of the total, 16 produced varying degrees of bioluminescence. Variability was recorded in the length of time bioluminescence lasted, exactly where bioluminescence was emitted from over the length of the Centipede and the release or non-release of bioluminescent fluid which was found to have a distinct odour akin to a sweet urine smell. Specimens in the larger size range (probably all mature females) seemed to react better than smaller specimens.”  We are relatively certain your Soil Centipede is Geophilus easoni.  You might also find this other, well researched posting of a Soil Centipede interesting.  

7 thoughts on “Soil Centipede found glowing in bed in England”

  1. Just spotted one exactly like this in North Cornwall (Tintagel). Noticed it at night with no lights by the bioluminesence as I dislodged it while climbing. Never seen a reddish centipede like this before (slow moving) that also creates momentary bioluminesce down the whole body as well as secreting glowing fluid splashes.

  2. I had a glowing centipede/millipede on my wrist last night when half asleep in bed. I thought it was my watch but realised I had taken that off and it was on the wrong wrist. Spooky. No photo unfortunately.

  3. Just saw a glowing dot in a N. Devon Lane close to South Molton. It turned out to be one of these centipedes that was being attacked by a rain beetle. It produced a circular patch of white light about a cm in diameter. I thought it may be the beetle but that wasn’t a glowbug/glow worm.
    I found a reference to Geophilomorph centipede on the glow worm website and followed a few searches to here.
    I’m a country born and bred 60 yr old and this is the first time I have ever seen this creature.
    By the time I had fetched my camera the beetle and centipede were gone.
    I’ll be poking every tiny centipede now see if it glows.


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