Centipedes are fascinating creatures that come in various sizes, colors, and leg counts. They are often found in damp and dark environments, such as under rocks, logs, or in soil. You might encounter different types of centipedes depending on your location and habitat.
One commonly found type is the house centipede, which has a hairier appearance and can live and reproduce indoors. You might spot them in high-humidity areas like basements, laundry rooms, or bathrooms. Don’t worry, these arthropods are generally harmless and can even help control other pests.
Another centipede you could encounter outdoors is the species often found in gardens. These are usually brownish with varying leg lengths, assisting them in navigating the soil and plant life. Centipedes, in general, are predators that assist in controlling other insect populations and maintaining balance in ecosystems.
Centipedes belong to the class Chilopoda, which is a group of arthropods. These creatures can be found in various environments worldwide. As members of the arthropod family, they share some common characteristics with other arthropods like spiders and insects.
Centipedes are known for their long, segmented bodies and numerous legs. Each body segment has a single pair of legs. Though their name implies they have 100 legs, the actual number can vary between 10 to 100 or more, depending on the species. For example, the house centipede typically has 15 pairs of legs and measures around one to one and a half inches long.
Some unique physical features of centipedes include:
- Long and slender antennae on their head for sensing their surroundings
- Segmented bodies, with each segment housing one pair of legs
- Varying leg length and count, depending on the species
|Legs per segment
|10 – 100+
Centipedes are predators that primarily feed on small insects and spiders. They are fast runners, which allows them to effectively hunt their prey. To catch their prey, centipedes utilize venomous jaws. Their need for a humid environment can lead to them being found in places like under pots with frequent watering, as mentioned in this Washington State University article.
In summary, centipede behavior includes:
- Predatory nature, targeting small insects and spiders
- Fast running to catch prey
- Preferring humid environments
Common Types of Centipedes
The House Centipede is a common species often found in human dwellings. With its 15 pairs of long, slender legs, it’s hard to miss. You might come across it in damp areas like basements, bathrooms, or closets. Don’t worry, they are harmless to humans and even act as natural pest control by feeding on other household insects.
House Centipede features:
- 15 pairs of legs
- 1 to 1.5 inches in length
- Yellowish-brown with dark stripes
- Fast runners
Giant Desert Centipede
Giant Desert Centipedes are known for their size and vibrant appearance. These creatures inhabit arid regions and can reach an impressive 6 to 8 inches in length. Be cautious, as they have a painful bite! Nevertheless, they play a significant role in controlling insect populations in their desert habitats.
Giant Desert Centipede characteristics:
- 6 to 8 inches in length
- Reddish-orange body with black bands
- 21 to 23 pairs of legs
- Venomous, but not life-threatening to humans
If you enjoy gardening, you might have encountered a Stone Centipede. With their shorter, flattened bodies, these centipedes blend into the soil and rocky terrain. They contribute to soil health and biodiversity by preying on various pests and decomposing organic matter.
Stone Centipede features:
- 15 pairs of legs
- 1 to 2 inches in length
- Brown or black, often with lighter markings
- Flattened body for burrowing
|Giant Desert Centipede
|1 – 1.5 inches
|6 – 8 inches
|1 – 2 inches
|21 – 23
|Brown or black
|Harmless, pest control
|Venomous, painful bite
|Harmless, garden dweller
Now that you know more about these three centipede species, you will be able to identify them better in your surroundings. These creatures are an essential part of maintaining a balanced ecosystem. So, whether you find them in your home or garden, remember their beneficial roles in controlling pest populations.
North American Habitats
In North America, you can find centipedes thriving in various habitats, from forests to deserts. They usually prefer damp, dark, and secluded areas, such as under rocks or logs. For example, in your garden, they might inhabit leaf litter or compost piles. Centipedes in North America can adapt to different soil types, which allows them to live in a wide range of environments.
Centipedes in Europe also prefer moist and dark areas, just like their North American counterparts. They tend to inhabit forests with rich soil, where organic materials provide ideal conditions for them. You might also find them in your European garden, hiding under stones or in naturally decomposing debris such as fallen leaves.
In Africa, centipedes can be found in deserts and forests, making use of various micro-habitats to survive. They are resourceful creatures, often living in burrows or other sheltered spots, and searching for food during the night when the temperature is cooler. Like in North America and Europe, centipedes in Africa tend to reside in damp and dark environments, often seeking refuge in soil or leaf litter.
Some key characteristics of centipedes’ preferred habitats include:
- Moist and dark conditions
- Secluded areas like under rocks, logs, or stones
- Various soil types, from rich organic soils to desert conditions
- Micro-habitats that provide shelter and protection
Centipede Lifecycle and Reproduction
Centipedes go through several stages during their life. They start as eggs, hatch into young centipedes, and eventually grow and mature into adults. These fascinating creatures reproduce by transferring a spermatophore from the male to the female.
When it comes to mating, centipedes exhibit unique behaviors. Male centipedes often deposit a spermatophore in the environment. Female centipedes track this down, usually by following the scent of the spermatophore.
Once the female locates the spermatophore, she picks it up and absorbs the sperm. She then lays her eggs, most often in a damp, dark location where young centipedes can have a better chance of survival.
As the young centipedes develop, they undergo a series of molts. During each molt, they will shed their exoskeleton and gradually grow new body segments and legs. It’s important to know that the number of legs they have depends on their species and stage in their lifecycle.
Over time, these young centipedes will mature and begin searching for their own mates. And thus, the fascinating lifecycle and reproduction process of centipedes continues.
In your journey to learn about centipedes, remember:
- Centipedes reproduce using a spermatophore
- The female locates and picks up the spermatophore to fertilize her eggs
- Eggs are laid in damp, dark environments for better survival
- Young centipedes molt and grow more segments and legs before reaching adulthood
Centipede Diet and Predation
Centipedes are known for their carnivorous and predatory nature. Their diet primarily consists of various small animals, but they mostly feed on insects and earthworms. As a centipede, you would use your venomous jaws to capture and consume your prey with ease.
Some examples of prey for centipedes include:
- Insects, like flies and ants
Although centipedes are skilled hunters, they also face predators of their own. Some common predators that may pose a threat to centipedes include:
- Birds, such as magpies and crows
- Frogs and toads
- Larger insects, like beetles
- Small mammals, including shrews and mice
By understanding the centipede’s diet and natural predators, you can better appreciate their role in the ecosystem and the balance they help maintain. Make sure to remember these facts while learning more about centipedes and their fascinating predatory behavior.
Identifying Centipede Bites
Centipedes are predatory venomous arthropods with segmented bodies and one pair of legs per segment. When they bite, they use their venomous claws called forcipules. If you’re bitten by a centipede, here’s what you should know.
Firstly, centipede bites are usually not severe. In most cases, you’ll only experience mild pain and swelling. However, some people may have an allergic reaction or develop an infection. Here’s what you might notice:
- A small puncture wound
- Redness and swelling around the area
- Mild to moderate pain
Now, let’s compare centipede bites to other common insect bites:
|Itchy red bump
If you think you’ve been bitten by a centipede, you can take some simple steps to manage the symptoms:
- Clean the area with soap and water.
- Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers for discomfort.
In conclusion, while centipede bites are not common and usually not severe, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms and know how to address them. By taking these steps, you can manage the pain and swelling and potentially avoid more severe reactions.
Dealing with Centipedes in the Home
To keep centipedes from entering your home, consider the following steps:
- Remove their hiding spots by keeping your basement, closets, and other damp, dark areas clean and clutter-free.
- Seal cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation and walls to prevent entry.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels in damp areas like basements and bathrooms.
- Regularly dispose of leaf mulch and wood piles close to your home, as they attract centipedes.
By taking these preventive measures, you can create an unwelcoming environment for centipedes and reduce the chance of an infestation.
Pest Control Methods
If you already have centipedes in your home, try these pest control methods:
- Use sticky traps in areas where centipedes are frequently seen, like basements, bathrooms, and closets.
- Apply a natural pesticide, such as diatomaceous earth, around entry points to eliminate centipedes.
- Vacuum regularly to remove their food sources, like insects and spiders.
Catching centipedes with these methods can help control their population in your home.
Remember to keep your home clean and well-maintained, especially in damp areas where centipedes tend to hide, to prevent their return. By following these steps, you will effectively manage and prevent centipedes from making your home theirs.
Interesting Facts about Centipedes
Did you know that centipedes are fast hunters? They use their speed to catch their prey, relying on venomous jaws to immobilize insects and other small animals. In contrast with their slow-moving cousins, millipedes, centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment, contributing to their agility.
Some species can be strikingly colored, such as the orange Scolopendra gigantea. This strikingly orange centipede is also known as the giant centipede. Native to the South American rainforests, the Scolopendra gigantea is one of the largest centipedes in the world, growing up to 12 inches in length.
To help with identification, here are some interesting centipede characteristics:
- One pair of legs per body segment
- Fast-moving hunters
- Venomous jaws for capturing prey
- Some species have colorful bodies, such as orange
When comparing centipedes and millipedes, keep these differences in mind:
|One pair per segment
|Two pairs per segment
As with all creatures, it’s important to avoid exaggerating or making false claims. Now that you’ve learned some brief and fascinating information about centipedes, you can better appreciate their unique qualities and important role in the ecosystem.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Multicolored Centipede
blue green centipede
Sat, Mar 28, 2009 at 5:22 PM
I caught this wonderfull little guy in El Dorado Hills California while on a job. I have had him/her for nearly a year and feed it tiny crickets. Just buying more when i notice no more crickets in the cage,
I think it is a giant centipede but have not been able to find one of similar color that should be living in this part of the world.
El Dorado Hills, California, USA
Though El Dorado Hills is several hundred miles north of Los Angeles, we believe your beautiful centipede is a Multicolored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha. Here is what Charles Hogue writes in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin: “This is a fairly large enctipede, attaining a maximum length of 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm). It varies in color from clear or dark olive yellow to greenish brown; the rear borders of the back plates are mostly dark green. Practically nothing is known about its biology, other than that its general habitat is the same as for most centipedes – secluded places in contact with logs, rocks or the ground. The bite of this species may be painful. Although there are no data on the effects of its poison on humans, it is probably harmless. Contrary to popular belief, the sharp claws on the legs are not poisonous. although the last pair of legs is capable of pinching.” BugGuide reports this species from several western states and has numerous photos that look very much like your specimen.
Letter 2 – Probably Hawaiian Centipede in Virginia
Big centipede with red legs in February in Virginia?
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
February 26, 2012 5:56 pm
My little Siamese cat reached through the blinds and knocked this leggy thing from my dining room windowsill. It does not look like a house centipede. It looks like a genuine ”it can really bite you” centipede. I pushed my cat away, grabbed a thick napkin, picked up this bug and threw it out on the sidewalk. I took some picture and have attached two of them. Is this a centipede? I have never seen one like this in Virginia.
This submission poses some perplexing possibilities. This is one of the Tropical Centipedes in the genus Scolopendra, and the genus is represented on the eastern seaboard by two species documented in Florida, including the Florida Blue Centipede, Scolopendra viridis, which has a range documented as far north as North Carolina according to a map link (to naturalsciences.org) on BugGuide. Most of the individuals pictured on BugGuide have blue legs, however, there is one photo on BugGuide that looks similar to your individual. There are so many inconsistencies that we are reluctant to say for certain that this is a Florida Blue Centipede without the specimen being inspected by an expert. Did you or someone in your household make a recent trip to a location with a warmer climate? If so, it is possible this individual was a stowaway in the luggage, or it is possible it is an unusually colored Florida Blue Centipede in an undocumented part of its normal range, or it might be a different species that was heretofore unknown in Virginia, and quite possibly an entirely new species. Alas, it seems we have more questions and answers. This sighting would probably have been of interest to your local natural history museum.
Aha! Thank you!
I think I know the answer now.
In late December, my husband ordered an anniversary gift for me.
It was finally shipped out on February 14, and arrived at our house on February 16.
The large box contained a beautiful framed painting by the Hawaiian artist, Leohone.
It was shipped out by FedEX from……..Honolulu, Hawaii.
The cat did not find this bug hanging out on the Windowsill until February 26, so that means it must have been here for 10 days (and no one noticed).
If this is a Hawaiian centipede, it must be a pretty hearty bug to travel so far and then live 10 days in cold Virginia with nothing to eat.
It was still full of fiery fight and energy!
Good thing that I saw it before the cat had enough time to really “play” with it.
Bingo. This looks like a good match on The Firefly Forest website.
I just looked at the link that you sent me.
That’s IT! You found it!
I have been looking all over the internet trying to find a centipede that resembled it.
At first, I didn’t even make the connection.
But, now I know it was most definitely a stowaway in the picture box that was shipped to me FedEX….from Honolulu, Hawaii.
This means the big centipede was wandering around in my house for 10 days before our cat noticed it.
In spite of the fact that it probably had nothing to eat since it left Hawaii, it was still filled with fiery energy.
As one of my friends remarked……it resembles a “mini-dragon.”
I am so glad I was able to pick it up off the floor and get it out of the house before my cat had a chance to really “play” with it.
Especially after reading the article that you sent me, I know my cat would have lost any game with this particular centipede.
I regretfully admit that I felt compelled to kill the poor misplaced bug.
Assuredly, the people in Hawaii who accidentally shipped it here don’t want it back.
And I couldn’t leave it wandering around outside. It simply doesn’t belong here.
Don’t want somebody’s unsuspecting pet to get hurt.
Sigh. The colder weather would have probably killed it anyway.
Letter 3 – Red Headed Centipede
October 12, 2009
hi we live in arkansas and we found this centipede i have read some other post on here and now it has a name what i was wondering is this giant redheaded centipede a native of arkansas? all the other post that ive read the centipede are in texas
BugGuide reports sightings of the Red HEaded Centipede in Arkansas. Arkansas is contiguous with Texas. Wildlife does not recognize state or international borders. We would deduce that Red Headed Centipedes naturally range in Arkansas.
Letter 4 – Multicolored Centipede
new centipede picture
I’m sure you have enough, but this is a pretty good picture of what I believe is a multi-colored centipede. Identification based on other pictures on your website. Found originally in a door frame, but later in the garbage disposal. Hope you can use the picture.
Please, please tell me the poor centipede crawled out of the garbage disposal and went its merry way.
He is being temporarily held for observation, but should be released later today. Those guys are quick. He came flying out well before any damage occurred.
Letter 5 – Multicolored Centipede
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.
This appears to be a Multicolored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha. Where is your friend’s pool?
Letter 6 – Multicolored Centipede
Subject: What kind of Centipede is this?
Location: 15 miles east of Tecate Mexico, in Baja Norte
March 8, 2013 10:01 pm
Can you tell me what kind of Centipede this is. I saw several of them over the course of the day.
Found in under a Rock in Sage Habitat/w Rock. About 15 miles east of Tecate Mexico, in Baja Norte.
Please let me know if you nee more info.
Thank You In Advance.
We believe this is either a Multicolored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha, or a closely related species. According to BugGuide, the range is: “w. half of the US north to SD-se.MT-e.OR; Mexico.” The bite is rumored to be quite painful.
Letter 7 – Multicolored Centipede
Subject: Do I need to burn down the house?
Geographic location of the bug: Simi Valley, CA
Time: 01:12 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Dear all knowing big men-
I found this centipede in the house today and needless to say, pretty freaked out!
We have small children! Are they carnivorous? Poisonous?
Anything I should look for to find their hiding place if there are more? Or do I need to burn down the house?!?
How you want your letter signed: Freaked out mama!
Dear Freaked out mama!,
This is a Multicolored Centipede, identified by Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin as being Scolopendra polymorpha, and on BugGuide called the Common Desert Centipede or Tiger Centipede. Centipedes are carnivorous and they do have venom. According to Hogue: “The bite of this species may be painful. Although there are no data on the effects of its poison on humans, it is probably harmless.” Of the order, BugGuide notes: “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 suspect it accidentally wandered indoors and we do not recommend burning down the house.
Letter 8 – Multicolored Centipede found in Mount Washington
Subject: Dead Multicolored Centipede found in Mount Washington
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
July 26, 2014
Yesterday, we walked out onto the patio and saw the Argentine Ants surrounding something on the concrete. We were surprised to see a small, two inch long, Multicolored Centipede in the genus Scolopendra. Though Hogue writes about them, we have never in our 34 years in Los Angeles seen one. Since our garden is kind of wild, we hope more may be lurking under stones and logs.
Letter 9 – Myriapod
I live in southcentral Kentucky and have found these occasionally when planting something. Recently, I have found lots of dead ones at the bottom of the pool. Can you tell me what they are? I have attached a couple of pictures. Thanks.
We just got the following correction from Joe:
(06/23/2005) Isopod or myriapod?
Great website! The last time I was looking at a photo one of your readers sent ( More Isopods(07/07/2004) and you identified it as a type of terrestrial isopod. However, as far as I know all isopods (superclass Crustacea) have only 7 pairs of legs. The photo shows an arthropod with two pairs of legs per body segment and at least 13 body segments, besides the head and abdomen. I am inclined to believe this is of the superclass Myriapoda, not Crustacea; specifically Class Diploda, Super Order Pentazonia. I am unsure of the order (could be Glomerida or Sphaeriotheriida (both commonly known to roll up in a ball), otherwise known as pill millipedes. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, so perhaps you can clarify? Thank you, Joe
Letter 10 – One of the Best Letters Ever
Whole lotta legs
Dear Señor Bugman,
Please help. What the !*&^%$!@* are these things?!?!
I am an American who was transferred to Mexico for my job. I live in a small town located in Mexico (State of Sonora) along the Sea of Cortez. Unfortunately living conditions here are not the best. Yes, we found these horrible things in our house. Yes, we have had the house fumigated (several times). AND YES, I am having nightmares about being eaten alive by these giant bugs. It took a half a jug of Ortho bug killer to bring these creatures to their demise (me screaming the entire time). See attached pictures. We have also encountered tarantulas, reptiles, and snakes in our home. Needless to say, every single day here is an adventure in the animal kingdom that’s for sure.
My goodness. I consider myself to be fairly brave in the face of most bugs – I can squash ’em with the best of ’em. However, when the bugs begin to approach the size of a small dog and they have hair of their own and small things that resemble horns-things change. YUCK!!! I get the heebie-jeebies just reading about them on your web site.
As for the reptilia I have so bravely encountered in my shower each day….let me just say – NO!!! I adore anything with fur (okay maybe not bugs with fur), I can tolerate things with feathers and fins…but ANYTHING that falls into the reptile category HAS GOT TO GO!!! YYYYEEESSSSHHHHHH!!!
In any case….can you please just tell me if the pictures I’ve attached of these creeepy crawly things are poisonous???
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico
Icky Long Bug: Millipede
Big Ugly Bug: Multicolored Centipede
Dear Bugged Out Cactus Girl Becky,
At the risk of seeming insensitive, I just love your letter, and the photos are great. Please continue to send us photos of Mexican fauna whenever you want.
Your Icky Long Bug is a millipede, and it is harmless. On the other hand, your big ugly bug is a centipede that is capable of inflicting a painful and poisonous bite. At least yours is not as big as they grow in other parts of the tropics and in the Oklahoma desert where they are reported to reach upwards of eight inches. Yours appears to be a Multi-Colored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha. Little is known about their biology. The last pair of legs is capable of pinching. The reptile looks like a gecko, and will probably eat insects in your shower.
Dear most Knowledgeable Bugman,
Ooops. Sorry I see that you addressed my "bug letter" on your bug site already, so please ignore the email I just resent to you.
Thanks you so much for responding to my email on your website. It is much appreciated. At least I now know which bugs are poisonous (and require screaming AND running) vs. the bugs which are not poisonous (only require screaming).
I will continue to capture strange Mexico bug pictures and email them to you. Thank god my camera has a giant zoom lens. You can bet I won’t be getting close to any of these gawd awful slimy things.
On a more pleasant note…..we had another snake invade our house this week. My heroic husband managed to skewer it with his pool que. Now there’s creative reptile/bug killing! The last time we had a snake in our house, it managed to hide in the bathroom until I had to tinkle. Guess who REALLY woke up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning when it crawled across the tops of their bare feet? Yes, that’d be me. I ended up perched on top the of the toilet with the snake between me and the only escape route (the door, of course). Screams can’t even begin to describe what sounds my husband woke up to that morning. When he opened up the bathroom door it slithered across his feet too (serves him right for sleeping through my snake trauma). He ended up whacking that one in half, and then stood there in total shock while both halves kept moving. Utter horror! Right out of a Steven King novel. I kid you not. Maybe someday when I am brave enough, I will tell you about the story of the cockroach nest in our water tank. Shivvvvvvver.
Letter 11 – Peruvian Centipede
Can you tell me what the name of this centipede is? I found in on a night hike in Manu Biosphere Reserve,
We started to research the Tropical Centipede genus Scolopendra, and we found a Wikipedia entry (with no photograph) of Scolopendra gigantea, the Peruvian Giant Yellowleg Centipede, or Amazonian Giant Centipede. It can reach 30 centimeters in length. Later photographs we found online on Damn Interesting do not really resemble your specimen. You will have to be happy with just the genus name Scolopendra. Interestingly, it looks very much like the Chinese Red Head, Scolopendra mutilans pictured on Golden Phoenix. At any rate, your photo is one of the most beautiful Tropical Centipedes we have ever seen, and perhaps some reader will provide us with a more exact identification.
Letter 12 – picture of creapy crawler
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!
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.
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.
Letter 13 – Red Headed Centipede
Pictures for You of Red-Headed Centipede and Hummingbird Moth
Hi Bugman! I love your site and consult it regularly since I moved to the Hill Country of Texas. I wanted to send you a couple of pictures I’ve taken of the subject bugs. The centipede was on the outside of my house just after I moved to Wimberely, Texas. It was about six inches long. The hummingbird moth was taken at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in South Austin this spring. I hope you enjoy them! Thank you for your wonderful site! Gratefully,
The photo you sent us of the Red Headed Centipede is especially nice.
Letter 14 – Remains of a Centipede from Australia
Subject: this bug dropped into my pond
Geographic location of the bug: Noosa, Queensland Australia
Time: 06:57 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Found this guy on the surface of my pond – guessing it dropped from the tree above??
How you want your letter signed: Fi
Your image is of the partial remains of a Giant Centipede, possibly Ethmostigmus rubripes. According to The Australian Museum: “This is the largest native Australian centipede and is a member of the scolopendrid family.” The site also states: “The Giant Centipede ranges in colour from dark blue-green-brown to orange-yelllow. It has black bands along the body and yellow legs and antenna. The body is long and flatterned with 25 or 27 body segments and 21 or 23 pairs of legs. The first pair of legs behind the head are modified claws which curve around its head and can deliver venom into its prey. The venom is toxic to both mammals and insects, but does not appear to be strong enough to kill large animals quickly.” We can only speculate on why you only discovered the posterior remains. Perhaps a predator like a bird or lizard ate the front end of the Giant Centipede.
Thanks. Yes, that makes sense.
Letter 15 – Scared of Something
In my home one day I spotted a horrible bug. It was six inches long,gray and looked like it had hair for legs and was incredibly fast.It look like this:
You have made a wonderful drawing of a House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, though six inches is an exaggeration.
Letter 16 – Pincushion Millipede feeding on Lichen
Subject: bug eating lichen
Location: north east ohio
April 18, 2015 7:40 pm
doing photo-micrograph of lichen and came back to find this little critter eating my subject.
the little guy is maybe 1/64 ” long
location is north east Ohio time is mid April
depth of field is quite shallow with the rig I’m using so i couldn’t get any better angles to show the mouth parts or legs and i didn’t wan to kill it just for a photo.
Your image is beautiful, and we have no idea what this is, except that it looks larval. We are posting your image and we hope that with the help of our readership, we will be able to provide an identification soon.
Update: Pincushion Millipede
Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash and a confirmation from Christopher Taylor, we now know that this is a Pincushion Millipede or Fuzzy Millipede or Bristly Millipede in the genus Polyxenus which is pictured on BugGuide where it states: “Their typical habitats are generally described as litter and bark, also commonly collected from rocks and old walls” and “They are diurnally active, feeding on algal films and lichens, often in warm and dry conditions and direct sunlight.”