Centipedes are insects that are typically long with many legs. Although most people associate these venomous arthropods with 100 legs, the truth is that every different type of them have odd numbers of them, having one per body segment. And depending on which centipedes we’re talking about, there is a large range of how many legs they have and how long they get. There are also different kinds in different places of your home and yard, as well as varying types depending on the climate and location in the world. Most of all, centipedes are far more interesting than you might think.

The Different Species of Centipedes

Little do most people know that centipedes don’t just come in one type. Even though the typical centipede you might think of is long and brown with a hundred legs, the truth is that their varieties are much more diverse.

Centipedes in your house

  • Scutigera coleoptrata: This is commonly referred to as the house centipede. It is yellow-ish gray and usually has no more than 15 pairs of legs. As a carnivore, it eats other insects like arthropods and arachnids. Its legs are very long and almost spider-like all up and down its body. As a result, it can sometimes be hard to be able to tell its head from its tail.
    Scutigera coleoptrata
  • Bathroom centipede: Centipedes like moist places, such as a bathroom, so it’s common to spot them there. And not only can these pests climb up through drainpipes, they can crawl straight through water as well. If you’re finding centipedes in your bathroom, check your plumbing to see where the creatures could have possible slipped through.

    There are approximately 8,000 species of centipedes throughout the world.
  • Centipedes in your bed: It could terrify to know that yes, centipedes can make it into your bed. They have the ability to crawl up the legs of your bed and into your sheets without any kind of problem whatsoever. But why would they go there? Sometimes, they just get lost and end up in the bed, but many times they’re hunting for food. Maybe you have bedbugs and the centipedes are there to eat them up. Or maybe there’s food left in your bed that the critters can smell. Even though they prefer insects to human food, centipedes do get curious about the scents that come from what we eat.

There are other bugs out there that are long with many legs. So what in the world sets centipedes apart from the rest? So if you’ve been asking yourself “What are centipedes?”, click here.

  • Garden centipede: You’ll easily find centipedes in your garden, as the outdoors are where the insects like to hunt. Look underneath rocks or pieces of wood, where the pests like to hide. Because centipedes don’t eat plants, they won’t bother your gardening or vegetation, and can actually help free your yard from the insects that might do damage.
    Garden centipede
  • Basement centipede: Centipedes like dark environments, which makes a basement a great place for them to be. They can get in through outlets and tiny cracks in between windows or doors.

Stone centipedes

Known scientifically as Lithobius, the stone centipede is brown and can get up to 2 inches long. They typically have around 15 pairs of legs. You’ll find them active at night, hunting outside for insects to kill and eat.

Stone centipede

Soil centipedes

These are long and flatter, having at least 27 pairs of legs and several inches of body length. They get their name from the way they like to burrow in the soil like an earthworm, although you can find them aboveground underneath logs and rocks.

Soil centipede

Aquatic centipede

Known as the “waterfall centipede, ” this species was found by accident in Thailand. One it scurried into the water, scientists watched it swim like an eel in the way it moved its body. It is hypothesized that the aquatic centipede goes hunting for small amphibious creatures once in the water.

Waterfall amphibious centipede

Flying centipedes

Although centipedes can’t fly, there is a species in Africa that looks it might be able to. Alipes has projections on its back legs that look almost like wings. But don’t worry, just like all centipedes, this one stays on the ground.

There’s always a chance you could get bitten by a centipede if you come in contact with one. Even though they are poisonous, their venom isn’t strong enough to kill a human. However, if you get bitten by one (especially large ones), there may be pain and swelling. Use ice and anti-inflammatories to combat this, and contact a medical professional if you experience any kind of allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing.

Centipedes deliver a nasty bite to their prey, paralyzing it quickly. But how would it affect a human? Go here for more details about are centipedes poisonous.

Giant Centipedes of the Desert

Giant Desert Centipede

Giant Desert Centipede

While some centipedes are very small, others are not. Although the following aren’t abnormally huge, there are several larger-than-average centipedes you’ll find in various habitats, including the desert:

  • Tiger centipede,
  • Green striped centipede,
  • Blue tree centipede,
  • Common desert centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha).

Red headed Centipede

Scolophendra Heros, sometimes known as the Texas red headed centipede, lives predominantly in the southwestern part of the United States and Northern Mexico, even spanning as far East as Arkansas. It varies in color from reddish brown, to tan, to black, and likes to come out when it’s dark outside. As for size, the giant desert centipede averages 6.5 inches in length and can get up to 8 inches. Another interesting fact is that this centipede’s head looks just like its tail, a feature that helps them survive a surprise attack. If a predator picks the wrong end and bites the tail, they’ll receive quite a surprise bite.

A centipede’s potent venom works quickly on its prey.

Its venom is made up of a neurotoxin that paralyzes its prey. But don’t worry – humans can’t be killed or seriously injured by this centipede, although it would probably hurt and cause redness and swelling.

Giant Redheaded Centipede

Giant Redheaded Centipede

Centipedes Come in All Different Colors

With different types of centipedes come different colors.

Some examples you may see include:

  • Brown: The house centipede, bark centipede, and brown centipede.
  • White: Garden symphyla centipede.
  • Green: Green centipede (Hemiscolopendra Marginate).
  • Gray: Some house centipedes.
  • Silver: Centipedes typically aren’t all silver, but various species may have silver striping or banding on them.
  • Brightly colored: Tiger centipede, Vietnamese giant centipede, cherry red centipede.
  • Black with yellow legs: Black and yellow centipede (Apheloria Montana), some giant red-headed centipedes.

Do centipedes sting with a stinger like a bee or do they bite? These creatures are deadly to insects and use their tiny mouths to do it. For more information about do centipedes bite, click here.

How they blend in

Life-forms of all types have evolved to blend in to their environment, including everything from insects, to reptiles, to plants. Iguanas and stone fish are good examples of this. And centipedes are no different, coming in a range of colors to suit their environment.

For example, the brown centipede enjoys hiding in the dirt and under logs. Because these are also brown, the pest will be harder to spot. This helps them not only hide from predators, but also to hide from prey, allowing them to sneak up on their victim more easily.

If you’re experiencing problems with pests like ants, crickets, or spiders in your yard, it is beneficial to have centipedes living there as well. These small insects are prey for centipedes, and will be hunted down as food. As long as the centipede population remains in control and they don’t invade your home, they can be a good bug to have on your property.

Warning colors

Another interesting fact about the animal kingdom is the colors that some species display as a warning, otherwise known as aposematism. Examples of animals that use this evolutionary defence are tree frogs, the cuttlefish, skunks, and some beetles, to name a few. Sometimes the colors are bright, and sometimes they are simply contrasting, communicating to possible prey their commanding presence.

Tiger Centipede
(Scolopendra polymorpha)

Tiger Centipede

With centipedes, there are some types that use aposematism to ward off predators. The milne bay centipede is orange and black with bright blue legs. The tiger centipede, with its bright orange body and black legs, communicates to predators that they better stay away.

As far as bugs are concerned, centipedes are an interesting bunch. Coming in a huge range of types, they live all over the world and are quite diverse when it comes to size and color. And although some of them do bite people if they feel threatened, there’s no need to worry about your safety. In fact, these creatures will eat the other bugs invading your home or yard and get rid of them for you. So the next time you think of a scary-looking centipede, try and remember how unique all the different types are, and you might see them in a different way.

You can find further details of Centipedes Control here.