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What kind is this? - Scolopendra alternans

What kind is this? - Scolopendra alternans
Key Largo, Monroe County, Florida, USA
December 3, 2006
Size: 9 inches
Found this by my pool this morning and have no idea what kind of centipede it is ,or if they are from around here or something someone set free that happens alot. I live in the upper Key Largo area and about 500 ft from the ocean. Any help with this would be really great. Thanks

Moved from Scolopendra.

Scolopendra alternans Leach,
Scolopendra alternans Leach, 1815.

I can help you with that..
That is a Scolopendra Alternans, originally from the West Indies. Native to Monroe, Dade, and Collier counties in Florida.

Definitely doesnt look native
Definitely doesnt look native, thats also definitely a member of the Scolopendra genus. My first guess was S. gigantea, but Im not too sure of that anymore. Got any closer pics? To ID it properly youd need to take a macro pic of the terminal legs (the long two back legs) and spiracles (breathing holes on the sides of the segments). Id recommend sending a picture to Vincent at or Stephen at Theyre BOTH very knowledgeable about Scolopendrids. I dont believe thats a S. polymorpha, but then again I could be wrong. Let us know what you find out!

Impressive centipede
Admittedly I don't know enough about these 'pedes to know if yours is native. What matters is that it's a Scolopendra, which means that your initial trepidation was entirely appropriate. That specimen -- S.polymorpha or whatever it turns out to be -- is capable of giving a bite that you would feel for a long time. They are formidable hunters.
I plan to be in your general area in early January, and wouldn't mind trying to capture it, if you would be willing to part with it. Just a thought.

the centipede

I am sorry to tell you that it was in the bottom of the pool, guess it was looking for a cool drink as it has been above average temps here. I do still have it but it is in a zippy bag in my frig. I sent a picture of it to school with my son today to show to his science teacher and asked if they may want it for education on how nasty these things are. I took about 4 hours after posting the picture here looking to see if I could figure it out and found the same as what you have said, the thing has at least 1/4 inch fangs or just a bit more. Guess I am glad I found it dead, but sure did not know I would ever find anything that size in my yard. We are divers for sport so we see some big things, but in the ocean, not on such a small island as Key Largo, and I would not have killed it myself, we do enjoy the wild life that we have in our "back yard". I would have gladly have let you hunt the thing if it was still living, or if you think there may be more around, I have a small dog that loves to dig in the yard (for land Crabs) I would hate to know she found one of these, a crab would just make her think twice, but I am sure a bite from this thing would kill her as she is only about 13lbs. Let me know about the hunt, and thanks again.
Update my son came home and said that his science teacher has seen them in south florida for years that they are breeding around here, yes they give a nasty bite, so I guess if you know how to find them and you will be in the area in Jan. good luck I am sure you can find a few. Hopefully that means one less in my yard....

the centipede
Pammiekeylargo: I live at 102.5 O/S in Key Largo and just discovered one of these bruisers this morning! (9 inches, a bit darker brown than yours) He or she was clambering over my carryall bag in our livingroom and woke my husband up with the climbing noise. Anyone have any ideas about where he or she came from? My band played at Holiday Isle tiki bar Monday night, which is dark and damp. Could he have crawled in my bag then? My livingroom isn't really conducive to the preferred habitat. We captured him in a pitcher and set him free in the woods across the road. I'll post a pic as soon as I get home from work..

trying for a hunt?
Hi Pamela,
Uhhh, yeah, I guess it should have occurred to me right away that your specimen wouldn't likely be posing like that if it had had a choice.
I've found large centipedes before out west, and I might have some idea of where to look. If you could email me at we could maybe work out a visit when I'm down there. If by some chance your son's science teacher and/or other curious parties could point me in the right direction, or even join me on the hunt itself -- I think it would make for a good story -- that would be fantastic and much appreciated. [Hope I'm not being too forward...]
Thanks a lot,

Dave G., still there?
You are welcome to check out the woods across from my house--we also found some light blue ones, about 5 inches or so, over there after hurricane Wilma. Just promise not to kill any. Let me know and I'll post you my email...

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