Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Centipede - Lithobius

Centipede - Lithobius
N47.630172 W52.687117, Log Bay, Northeast Avalon, Newfoundland/Labrador, Canada
May 16, 2014
Size: 7 mm length.

Images of this individual: tag all
Centipede - Lithobius Centipede - Lithobius Centipede - Lithobius Centipede - Lithobius Centipede - Lithobius

Moved from Centipedes.

If this were larger, the triangular projections and many antennal segments would lead me to call this Lithobius forficatus, and it might be a juvenile, but since it is small, it could also be an adult Lithobius melanops, which I don't think has been recorded in Canada but is likely to occur there. If it were further south Sonibius is also a possibility but I'm confident they don't occur as far north as Newfoundland.

I'm going to put this in the genus Lithobius, but this coincidence of characters is just that, a coincidence. It doesn't mean these characters are shared by all Lithobius, or only by Lithobius.

Great pictures!

Thanks and...
Hi Joseph, My daughter (from Ontario) recently corresponded with you about collecting centipede (and perhaps millipede) specimens for you and your colleagues to identify. You may be interested to know that this individual is the first one in my collection. It is temporarily stored in a pill bottle containing isopropyl alcohol 99% USP. I have ordered some specimen vials with polyseal caps from Once they arrive I'll transfer this specimen to one of those vials. I'll probably wait until fall to mail the specimens to you so I can send them all in a single package. Sound OK? I guess after you do a lab exam you will be able to ID this one for certain. Thanks.

I am very excited to look at
I am very excited to look at some Canadian specimens! I'm going to be doing a survey in Tennessee this summer so I won't be able to identify any specimens until this fall anyway. Alcohol in polyseal vials would be perfect, I just need locality/collector/date info for each specimen.

Once I have this specimen under a microscope I can identify it for certain. In fact, if you have a microscope, look at the underside of the head. You will see a flat area with several forward pointing "teeth." These are the prosternal teeth, and they are used in picking up prey. If there are 2 prosternal teeth on each side (4 in total), this is L. melanops. If there are 4+ on each side, it is an immature L. forficatus. Adult L. forficatus have 5+ on each side but in my experience immatures often have fewer.

Here's a link showing what prosternal teeth look like:


I don't usually look forward to winter arriving because the 'bugs' are gone. But this winter may be different. If my daughter and I are able to get enough centipedes for you, I'll be excited to learn what you find with a microscope. I don't have a microscope. Even if I did, I fear that I'd be too clumsy to use it. It's all I can to do avoid damaging the live specimen while I'm trying to photograph and measure. That occasionally happens. I had to chill this one a wee bit before I could slow it down enough for the photos. I got about 2 minutes of lethargic behavior before it started to move too fast again. I rarely chill 'bugs' for photos but centipedes can really go. That doesn't seem to be a problem with the millipedes.

Centipedes are very fast. I h
Centipedes are very fast. I haven't had any luck at all taking pictures of live specimens but I just have a cheap little digital camera right now, soon I'm going to get a good macro camera that will hopefully make things easier. Millipedes are a totally different picture; they're mostly pretty slow, and some of them will curl right up into a spiral and just sit there.