House Centipede Fact File

Appearance

The house centipede is a species of myriapod which means they have many legs. An average house centipede would typically have fifteen legs. Each pair of legs is attached to a body segment.

House centipedes legs increase in length going back along the body. By the back of the body the legs will be almost twice as long as those at the front of the body.

Their body is colored either brown or black. Three dark stripes run down the back. Bands of color are also present on the legs.

At the front of the body the first pair of legs is modified in to fangs which are used to capture their prey. Also protruding from the head are a pair of well developed antennae.

On average they measure between 1 and 6cm (0.4 and 2.36in) long.

Diet

House centipedes are carnivores. Their diet is made up of invertebrates such as worms, snails, larvae and other arthropods.

They can subdue their prey using a venom. They will use the fangs to hold their prey while they inject this.

After eating they will retreat to a spot and rest while the food digests.

House centipede

Scientific Name

Scutigera coleoptrata

Conservation Status

Not Evaluated

Length

1-6cm (0.4-2.36in)

Lifespan

6 years

Diet

Carnivorous

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Range

It is thought that the house centipede was originally native to the Mediterranean. Today though they have spread across Europe, Asia and to North America.

Habitat

House centipedes are found in temperate climates. They will hide in humid areas such as crevices in rocks or caves.

Often they can be found living alongside humans in buildings. They tend to favor basements and bathrooms which are more humid.

House centipede

Reproduction

Breeding for the house centipede is stimulated by pheromones and sound. It tends to take place in the warmer months of the year.

Males will circle the females and tap them until they find one which is receptive. Once one is found he will spin a silk pad and deposit his sperm there. The female then takes this to fertilize her eggs.

The eggs are laid in soil and covered with a sticky substance. An average of 63 eggs are laid though up to 150 have been observed.

At hatching the young resemble miniature versions of the adult. At hatching they have four pairs of legs. They will undertake five molts before they are considered an adult. This process may take up to three years.

Mothers provide some level of protection to their young for the first two weeks of life.

Behavior

House centipedes are mainly nocturnal spending their day hidden under a rock or log.

Unlike other centipedes they have good vision though still use their antennae to find their way around.

They are among the fastest moving species of centipede.

House centipede

Quick facts

These centipedes share their common name with an Australian species, the house centipede (Allothereua maculata).

House centipede

Photo Credits

Top

Theilr, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Kevincollins123, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two

Papypierre1, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

Bruce Marlin, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

National Geographic Society (U. S.), 2012. National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia. Natl Geographic Soc Childrens Books.

Ricks, W. 2001. “Scutigera coleoptrata” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 10, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Scutigera_coleoptrata/

Bartlett, T., 2004. Species Scutigera coleoptrata – House Centipede. [online] Bugguide.net. Available at: <https://bugguide.net/node/view/25> [Accessed 12 April 2021].

2015. House Centipede. [ebook] Museum Pests, p.1. Available at: <https://museumpests.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/House-Centipede.pdf> [Accessed 12 April 2021].

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Similar Species

Asian giant centipede
African Giant Millipede

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