House centipede

From Academic Kids

House Centipede
Missing image

Scientific classification
Binomial name
Scutigera coleoptrata
Linnaeus, 1758

Unlike its shorter-legged but much larger tropical cousins, the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) can live its entire life inside a building.

The house centipede has (when fully grown) 15 pairs of very long, delicate legs and a rigid body, which enables it to run with incredible speed up walls and along ceilings and floors. Their body is yellowish grey and has three dark-colored dorsal stripes running down its length; the legs also have dark stripes.

House centipedes prefer to live in cool, damp places. Most live outside, primarily under large rocks, piles of wood and especially in compost piles. Within the home, these centipedes are found in almost any part of the house; most commonly, they are encountered in basements, bathrooms and lavatories, where there is a lot more water, but they can also be found in dry places like offices, bedrooms and dining rooms. The greatest likelihood of encountering them is in spring, when they come out because the weather gets warmer, and in fall, when the cooling weather forces them to find shelter in human habitats.

House centipedes feed on spiders, termites, cockroaches, silverfish and other household pests. They do not cause damage to food or furniture. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their poison fangs and then feasting on the dead prey. For this reason, house centipedes are considered among the most beneficial creatures that inhabit human dwellings, but because of their alarming appearance few homeowners are willing to share a home with them.

The house centipede can theoretically sting humans, but this seldom occurs. When it does, it is no worse than a minor bee sting. However, it can cause health problems for those allergic to it. The worst one can expect from a house centipede's sting is some pain and a slight swelling at the location of the sting, but the symptoms usually disappear within a few hours. The house centipede's venom is too weak to cause any serious harm to larger animals like dogs and cats.

If you find an unwanted house centipede in your house, and do not wish to kill it, herd it into a clean glass container with a lid, take it outside and release the centipede there, perferably far away so it does not find a way back in.

Should one find it impossible to coexist with them, eliminating house centipedes involves drying up the areas where they could thrive. Another method would be eliminating large indoor insect populations and sealing cracks in the walls. Only during severe infestations should one use chemicals to kill the population because the fumes can be very harmful to pets and young children.

House centipedes have as few as four pairs of legs when they are hatched. With each molting, they gain a new pair. They live anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the environment.

House centipedes lay their eggs in the spring and in a laboratory experiment of 24 house centipedes it was found the average centipede laid 63 eggs and a maximum of around 151 eggs.


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