Species Scutigera coleoptrata - House Centipede
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Myriapoda (Myriapods)
Class Chilopoda (Centipedes)
Order Scutigeromorpha (House Centipedes)
Species coleoptrata (House Centipede)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Specific epithet sometimes misspelled as cleopatra.
body length to 3 cm (1.2 inches)
Distinctive overall shape, with notably long legs. The general colors are yellowish-brown hues, with three dark stripes running along the top of the body with lighter shading between them. The 15 pairs of legs are banded, becoming lighter toward their tips, with barbs that help hold onto prey.
They have large, well-developed, multi-faceted eyes.
In females the last pair of legs are more than twice the length of the body.
Throughout the United States and southern Canada. In the southern states they may live outdoors all year long. In the north, they may leave homes and hunt outdoors during the Summer and Fall.
Native to the Mediterranean region, this species has spread throughout much of Europe, Asia, and North America.
Mostly encountered indoors in damp areas such as bathrooms, cellars, and crawl spaces. It will venture beyond these areas and is often seen quickly scurrying across floors or climbing a wall.
Outdoors, they live under logs, rocks, and similar moist protected places.
Indoors they are likely to be found at all times of the year provided they have warmth and available prey. In the north they will only be found outside during Summer.
Predatory on other arthropods, including cockroach nymphs, flies, moths, bedbugs, crickets, silverfish, earwigs, and small spiders. In short, they'll eat many things you'd probably rather not have in your home.
A female may lay anywhere from 35 to over a hundred eggs, but does not guard or provide for them. Larvae hatch with four pairs of legs and get increasingly more as they mature, up to 15 pairs at maturity.
You'd be lucky to get a good look at one of these since they run away very quickly when approached.
House centipedes are aggressive predators of creatures their own size but are not considered dangerous to humans. Their small jaws (actually modified front legs) cannot easily pierce human skin. In the rare event you are bitten, pain and swelling may result, but it will probably be no worse than a bee sting.
If you're plagued by these, you should endeavor to rid yourself of their prey and attempt to close as many entry points into your house as possible.
Levi, Spiders and Their Kin, illustration and notes, page 143 (1)
Hogue, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, photo and notes, page 400-401, figure 471 (2)
Fact sheet from Penn State
Illustration and natural history
, for a UK audience, but nonetheless useful, by Stuart Bennett
, Richard Fox, Lander University
|1.||Spiders and Their Kin: A Golden Guide from St. Martin's Press|
Herbert W. Levi, Lorna R. Levi, Nicholas Strekalovsky. 2001. St. Martin's Press.
|2.||Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, 2nd edition|
Charles L. Hogue. 1992. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.