Type of Centipede: Fascinating Species to Discover

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.

Understanding Centipedes

Class Chilopoda

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.

Physical Characteristics

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
Feature Centipedes
Body type Segmented
Antennae Present
Legs per segment One pair
Leg count 10 – 100+

Centipede Behavior

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

House Centipede

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

Stone Centipede

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
Feature House Centipede Giant Desert Centipede Stone Centipede
Length 1 – 1.5 inches 6 – 8 inches 1 – 2 inches
Leg pairs 15 21 – 23 15
Color Yellowish-brown Reddish-orange Brown or black
Human interaction 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.

Centipede Habitats

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.

European Habitats

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.

African Habitats

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

Prey Selection

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
  • Earthworms
  • Spiders

Common Predators

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:

Centipede Bites Bee Stings Mosquito Bites Spider Bites
Small puncture Sharp pain Itchy red bump Red, swollen
Redness Swelling Raised area Painful
Painful Redness

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

Preventive Measures

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:

Feature Centipedes Millipedes
Legs One pair per segment Two pairs per segment
Movement Fast Slow
Diet Carnivorous Herbivorous

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.

Reader Emails

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.
Ryan
El Dorado Hills, California, USA

Multicolored Centipede
Multicolored Centipede

Hi Ryan,
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.

 

Multicolored Centipede

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.
Signature: Mary

Tropical Centipede

Dear Mary,
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.
Mary

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.
Eeeeek!!
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

 

redhead 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
troy
van buren,arkansas

Red Headed Centipede
Red Headed Centipede

Hi Troy,
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.

Red Headed Centipede
Red Headed Centipede

Letter 4 – Multicolored Centipede

 

new centipede picture
Hey there,
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.
Zac

Hi Zac,
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
Location:
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?

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.
Brian
Signature: Any

Multicolored Centipede
Multicolored Centipede

Dear Brian,
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
Date: 06/22/2019
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!

Multicolored Centipede

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 wa
lked 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.

Dead Multicolored Centipede
Dead Multicolored Centipede

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???
Muchas gracias,
CactusGirlBecky
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.

(10/14/2003)
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

 

Peruvian centipede
Hi!
Can you tell me what the name of this centipede is? I found in on a night hike in Manu Biosphere Reserve,
Peru. Thanks,
Rachel

Hi Rachel,
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!
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.

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,
Heather Putnam

Hi Heather,
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
Date: 12/08/2018
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

Remains of a Centipede

Dear 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.
Fiona McComb

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:
Katherine Cohen

Hi Katherine,
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.
Signature: LPainne

What's Eating the Lichen????
What’s Eating the Lichen????:  Pincushion Millipede

Dear LPainne,
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.”

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

42 thoughts on “Type of Centipede: Fascinating Species to Discover”

  1. Its amazing because i was watching a video on my bed .and i caught something colorful crawling from under it and there it was a multicolored centipede ! .i didnt know whether i should be shocked or scared because i dont know much about these insects .i dont even know its identification name ! all i know is its a centipede.so i put it in a small box and let it go faaaar away from my house ,because i am petrified of insects .

    Reply
  2. I saw a few similar back in the 60’s around La Sierra, CA but they were all more than 6″ long. One I found was out by Wood Crest near March AFB. I have seen at least one out near Giant rock that was well over 6″. All these were seen when I was a young guy.
    Since then while serving in the jungles of SE Asia I saw some REALLY BIG ones that were mostly black. Having a camera back then was not the most important piece of gear I was toting.

    I hope more of you will have the chance to see some of these amazing and scary critters!

    Rusty Rossey

    Reply
  3. I saw a few similar back in the 60’s around La Sierra, CA but they were all more than 6″ long. One I found was out by Wood Crest near March AFB. I have seen at least one out near Giant rock that was well over 6″. All these were seen when I was a young guy.
    Since then while serving in the jungles of SE Asia I saw some REALLY BIG ones that were mostly black. Having a camera back then was not the most important piece of gear I was toting.

    I hope more of you will have the chance to see some of these amazing and scary critters!

    Rusty Rossey

    Reply
  4. We found one in our bathroom here in Las Vegas. He’s only about 1 1/2 inches long but definitely freeked out my kids!

    Reply
    • Oh wow. I just killed a multicolored green. Centipede. Sorry but it crawled out of my apt onto the patio where i was. So creepy. I panicked. I hope there isnt more here. Sorry i know they r rare.

      Reply
  5. Very interesting! Wonder if it’s a larvae of some sort, or an oddball micro-invertebrate. Just looking at the photo, the first thing that comes to mind are some of the colorful marine polychaete worms if the photographer hadn’t specified the circumstances 🙂 .

    Reply
  6. As Cesar has said, this is a pincushion millipede of the Polyxenida. Pincushion millipedes have a reputation for being rare, but they can be abundant in at least some localities. Species-wise, Polyxenus lagurus and P. fasciculatus both appear to be widespread in North America, but I haven’t found how to tell which is in your photo.

    Reply
  7. I was hiking the Jump Creek canyon south of Marsing, Idaho this last Tuesday (4/23/15) and encountered one of these after rolling a rather large rock. I tried to get a picture of it but withdrew into the grass. It was approximately two inches in length and a very bright blue/green. I’m a native Idahoan and haven’t seen one of these before. Is this unusual for Idaho? Thanks.

    Reply
  8. G’day we have those centipedes in Tasmania, Australia found one today in a load of wood. Be careful not to get stung/bitten they are poisonous and the pain can last from a few hours to several days. But rarely fatal to humans.

    Reply
  9. Be thankful that you did kill that centipede from Hawaii they are not only dangerous for animals they are dangerous for people. When I visited Hawaii in 2010 some centipedes crawled in our wet clothes and the locals informed us to never touch them or we would be in the hospital for days in horrible pain. They are extremely dangerous.

    Reply
  10. I was just playing with my new puppy in the livingroom and it moved the towel it was laying on and it crawled from under it and she sat on it before I could stop her if it bite her will she be ok WE ALSO live in Rogersville, Alabama

    Reply
  11. I live I Wildomar Ca. I just captured on of these guys! I found him hanging out on a wall in my closet. Not the greatest thing to find late at night! We tried to get him but he ended up hiding in some sheets we had folded in there. Put everything in a trash bag and went looking for him in the am. I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but I swear the thing hissed at me when I started shaking the sheet he was hiding in. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one of these. And I’d be happy if it were the last….

    Reply
  12. I live in South East Georgia about 70 miles west of Tybee Island. About 2:30am one came crawling up from the back of the couch and im sorry to say that i killed the crap out of it. I was bitten/stung/pinched about a two years ago while sleeping and yet again it was in the early morning hours. Im here to tell you, IT HURTS! I brushed and swatted at that time and only caught a glimps and searched endlessly for hours with no result and couldn’t sleep comfortably for several nights for the fear of its return. Trust me, i know it sounds pretty crazy to be a 35 year old grown man and get that freaked out by a bug or insect but when the bite/sting/pinch when they’re not being bothered and came into my house and into my bed to do so thats where i draw the line on extermination. Im a lover of all God’s creations but they need to stay out of my safe zone. The one tonight was blue/green with what seems to be some sort of antennas on its head and something that looks very similar on its rear which im sure is a protection decoy to confuse predators on whats the head and whats the tail. Either way… they should head in another direction because they make me act like a scared little girl when they all of a sudden creep up on me. Thanks for all the great info on your site and sorry for the extermination but it was a necessary and humain kill.

    Reply
  13. My mother got bite by this long insect in year 2010 around….she said that it is realy really really hurt…she’s already experience got bite by a snake 20 years ago…we are from malaysia…it is normal to see red long centipete around my village especially during rainy season…but this kind of centipete is weird

    Reply
  14. I live in southern Arizona and have found dozens of these Blue and multicolored centipedes. Beautiful color & very eye pleasing. They’re probably my favorite next to the Banded Heros!
    I’m also curious to know their identity. Been calling them Aquapedes for now.

    Reply
  15. I live in southern Arizona and have found dozens of these Blue and multicolored centipedes. Beautiful color & very eye pleasing. They’re probably my favorite next to the Banded Heros!
    I’m also curious to know their identity. Been calling them Aquapedes for now.

    Reply
  16. We just found a dead one of these on a nature trail in Northern Virginia today! It was wrapped around a log, 3/4 outside of it. I took a picture bc we’d never seen anything like it, but when I tapped it with a stick it fell apart very grotesquely. Would be happy to share photo.

    Location: Nokesville public park path!! Not a Hawaiian transplant!?

    Reply
  17. We just found a dead one of these on a nature trail in Northern Virginia today! It was wrapped around a log, 3/4 outside of it. I took a picture bc we’d never seen anything like it, but when I tapped it with a stick it fell apart very grotesquely. Would be happy to share photo.

    Location: Nokesville public park path!! Not a Hawaiian transplant!?

    Reply
  18. I just found a dead one in my kids’ playroom. The legs are a bright blue/green. About 1.5″ long. I wouldn’t want to see a bigger one! We are in Mesa, AZ.

    Reply
  19. I found 2 in less than a year. I live in Las Vegas! They must be migrating!!!! Noooooo because I hate them so much. My biggest fear

    Reply
  20. I live in Southern AZ, and find several in my yard every year. I protect them because centipedes are a good good bug! Maybe some find them scary but you can’t judge a book by its cover. :D. I enjoy watching them.

    Reply
  21. Just found the first one in our house. We have found three others outdoors. The others have all come out from under rocks. We love next to Flat iron mountain in the Superstitions easy of Phoenix.

    Reply

Leave a Comment