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House Centipede

Scutigera coleoptrata (Linnaeus 1758)

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S. coleoptrata are very fast moving centipedes. They have a shorter body and longer legs than other species, preventing them from tripping over themselves as they run. Their legs progressively get longer towards the rear of the body. This allows the rear legs to cross the legs in front of them, going above and to the outside, preventing entanglement. The rear-most legs are actually twice as long as the front-most legs.

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Conservation Status

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US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Cycle

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Immature S. coleoptrata hatch from the egg appearing very similar to the adults, although they have only four pairs of legs. As they develop they pass through five larval instars, with each molt gaining more leg pairs. After their fifth molt, they have all fourteen pairs of legs and are mature.

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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House centipedes are not aggressive, but can bite people in self-defense. Often their fangs are not strong enough to break the skin. If they do get through skin, the venom injected can cause a painful bite, comparable to a honeybee sting.

As relatively large and active arthropods, many people consider their presence indoors a nuisance.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings, venomous ); household pest

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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House centipedes eat many pest organisms, such as cockroaches (Blattodea) and silverfish (Lepismatidae).

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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Scutigera coleoptrata is carnivorous, eating worms, snails, cockroaches, silverfish, fly larvae, and other arthropods. It senses its prey using its antennae which have scent and touch receptors on them. House centipedes then use their fangs to hold the prey while injecting poison with the modified front legs. After eating, S. coleoptrata retreats to a safe place to let the food digest.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; terrestrial worms

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Distribution

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Scutigera coleoptrata, the common house centipede, is thought to be native to the Mediterranean. Today it can be found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Introduced , Native ); oriental (Introduced )

Other Geographic Terms: holarctic

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Habitat

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Scutigera coleoptrata prefers temperate climates and are often found in buildings. They can apparently survive in many humid habitats, as long as there is a place to hide, sufficient humidity, and enough food. They are often found in dark, humid areas such as crevices under rocks and caves. In residences they're more commonly found in basements and bathrooms (probably because of higher humidity there).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; riparian ; caves

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
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Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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House centipedes are brown or black in color. Like all arthropods, S. coleoptrata has an exoskeleton made of chitin and sclerotin. Its dorsal-ventrally flattened body is divided into fifteen segments with one pair of legs per segment. The first pair of legs is modified into fangs used for capturing prey and as protection. There are three dorsal longitudinal stripes, and the legs are banded. They have very well developed antennae and compound eyes. Most range from one to six cm in length and are very quick runners in comparison with other centipedes.

Range length: 1 to 6 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; venomous

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Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
author
Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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Scutigera coleoptrata is stimulated by pheromones and sound signals. During courtship, males circle and tap other centipedes looking for a receptive female. Once a mate is found, the male spins a silk pad in which he places his sperm. The female then takes the sperm pouch and fertilizes her eggs. Courtship and reproduction occurs during the warmer months of the year.

Female house centipedes lay their eggs in the soil and cover them up with a sticky substance. Courtship and reproduction occurs during the warmer months of the year.

In laboratory observations, females laid an average of 63 eggs, and a maximum of 151 eggs.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

For about two weeks after the baby centipedes have hatched, the mother and her offspring live in the same place, providing some degree of protection for the young.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

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bibliographic citation
Ricks, W. 2001. "Scutigera coleoptrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Scutigera_coleoptrata.html
author
Winston Ricks, Southwestern University
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Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Sara Diamond, Animal Diversity Web
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Our top predator | The Smaller Majority by Piotr Naskrecki

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The house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) is a particularly welcomed inhabitant of my domestic ecosystem...

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Scutigera coleoptrata

provided by wikipedia EN

Scutigera coleoptrata, also known as the house centipede, is a species of centipede that is typically yellowish-grey and has up to 15 pairs of long legs. Originating in the Mediterranean region, it has spread to other parts of the world, where it can live in human homes.[1] It is an insectivore; it kills and eats other arthropods, such as insects and arachnids.[2]

Etymology

In 1758, Carl Linnaeus described the species in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae, giving the name Scolopendra coleoptrata, writing that it has a "coleopterated thorax" (similar to a coleopter).[3] In 1801, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck separated scutigera from scolopendra, calling this species Scutigera coleoptrata.[4] The word scutigera comes from "to bear" (gerere) and "shield" (scutum), because of the shape of the plates in the back of the chilopod.[5]

Morphology

The body of an adult Scutigera coleoptrata is typically 25 to 35 mm (0.98 to 1.38 in) in length, although larger specimens are sometimes encountered.[6] Up to 15 pairs of long legs are attached to the rigid body. Together with the antennae they give the centipede an appearance of being 75 to 100 mm (3 to 4 in) in length.[6] The delicate legs enable it to reach surprising speeds of up to 0.4 meters per second (1.3 ft/s)[7] running across floors, up walls and along ceilings. Its body is yellowish-grey and has three dark dorsal stripes running down its length; the legs also have dark stripes. S. coleoptrata has developed automimicry in that its tail-like hind legs present the appearance of antennae. When the centipede is at rest, it is not easy to tell its cranial end from its caudal end.

Unlike most other centipedes, house centipedes and their close relatives have well-developed faceted eyes.

Reproduction and development

House centipedes lay their eggs in spring. In a laboratory observation of 24 house centipedes, an average of 63 and a maximum of 151 eggs were laid. As with many other arthropods, the larvae look like miniature versions of the adult, albeit with fewer legs. Young centipedes have four pairs of legs when they are hatched. They gain a new pair with the first molting, and two pairs with each of their five subsequent moltings. Adults with 15 pairs of legs retain that number through three more molting stages (sequence 4-5-7-9-11-13-15-15-15-15 pairs).[8]

House centipedes live anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the environment. They can start breeding in their third year. To begin mating, the male and female circle around each other. They initiate contact with their antennae. The male deposits his sperm on the ground and the female then uses it to fertilize her eggs.

Behavior and ecology

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Closeup of the head showing forcipules
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Scutigera coleoptrata resting on a wall. The antennae are approximately 2 cm long.
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Head close-up magnified.

House centipedes feed on spiders, bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and other household arthropods. They administer venom through forcipules. These are not part of their mandibles, so strictly speaking they sting rather than bite. They are mostly nocturnal hunters. Despite their developed eyes, they seem to rely mostly on their antennae when hunting. Their antennae are sensitive to both smells and tactile information. They use both their mandibles and their legs for holding prey. This way they can deal with several small insects at the same time. To capture prey they either jump onto it or use their legs in a technique described as "lassoing". Using their legs to beat prey has also been described.[9] Like other centipedes they can stridulate.

In a feeding study, S. coleoptrata showed the ability to distinguish between possible prey, avoiding dangerous insects. They also adapted their feeding pattern to the type of hazard the prey might pose to them. For wasps, they retreat after applying the venom to give it time to take effect.[9] When the centipede is in danger of becoming prey itself, it can detach any legs that have become trapped. House centipedes have been observed to groom their legs by curling around and grooming them with their forcipules.

In 1902, C. L. Marlatt, an entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture, wrote a brief description of the house centipede:[1]

It may often be seen darting across floors with very great speed, occasionally stopping suddenly and remaining absolutely motionless, presently to resume its rapid movements, often darting directly at inmates of the house, particularly women, evidently with a desire to conceal itself beneath their dresses, and thus creating much consternation.

Habitat

Outdoors, house centipedes prefer to live in cool, damp places. Centipede respiratory systems do not provide any mechanism for shutting the spiracles, and that is why they need an environment that protects them from dehydration and excessive cold. Most live outside, primarily under large rocks, piles of wood or leaves, in barkdust and especially in compost piles. They often emerge from hiding during the watering of gardens or flowerbeds. These centipedes can be found in almost any part of the house; although they are usually encountered in dark or dimly lit areas such as basements and garages. Inside the home, they can be found in bathrooms and lavatories, which tend to be humid, but they can also be found in drier places like offices, bedrooms and dining rooms. They are usually seen crawling along the ground or floor, but they are capable of climbing walls. The greatest likelihood of encountering them is in spring, when they emerge due to warmer weather and in autumn/fall, when the cooling weather forces them to seek shelter in human habitats.

Distribution

S. coleoptrata is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, but it has spread through much of Europe, Asia, North America and South America. It is thought to have first been introduced to the Americas in Mexico and Guatemala and now it reaches north into Canada and south to Argentina.[9]

In the United States, it spread north from the southern states, reaching Pennsylvania in 1849, New York in 1885, and Massachusetts and Connecticut in about 1890. In 2009, its distribution extended from Virginia in the east to the coast of California in the west. It is also found in the Pacific Northwest, where it appears to be somewhat less common than in other areas of the country.

In 2011, it was first reported in Chile, in the Metropolitan and Los Lagos regions.[10]

In South Africa, they have been sighted in the Western Cape, in and around Cape Town (sightings have been reported in Pinelands; Vredehoek, Mowbray, Edgemead, Green Point, Zonnebloem, Woodstock; Stellenbosch, Simon's Town, Rooi-Els, Pringle Bay and Gordon's Bay) and also in KwaZulu-Natal, in the city of Pietermaritzburg. They are also found around the Garden Route, including Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay, George and Knysna, and in Bloemfontein in the Free State.

In 2013 they were recorded in Lichinga, Mozambique, and in 2017 in Pemba and at Lujeri Tea Estate, Mulanje, Southern Malawi.

They have been found in eastern and southern Australia, from Perth to Adelaide, South Australia, to Sydney, New South Wales and in Tasmania. Other countries they have been found in include New Zealand,[11] Japan[12] and South Korea.

Although known to exist in South and Southeast Asia, S. Coleoptrata is relatively rare.

Biological details

The faceted eyes of S. coleoptrata are sensitive to daylight and very sensitive to ultraviolet light.[13] They were shown to be able to visually distinguish between different mutations of Drosophila melanogaster.[14] How this ability fits with its nocturnal lifestyle and underground natural habitat is still under study. They do not instantly change direction when light is suddenly shone at them, but will retreat to a darker hiding spot.

Some of the plates covering the body segments fused and became smaller during the evolution to the current state of S. coleoptrata. The resulting mismatch between body segments and dorsal plates (tergites) is the cause for this centipede's rigid body.

Tergites 10 and 11 are not fully developed and segment 18 does not have a sternite. This model deviates from descriptions by Lewis who identified only 7 tergites and 15 segments.[15]

Another feature that sets S. coleoptrata apart from other centipedes is that their hemolymph was found to contain proteins for transporting oxygen.

The mitochondrial genome of S. coleoptrata has been sequenced. This opened up discussions on the taxonomy and phylogeny of this and related species.[16]

Interaction with humans

Unlike its shorter-legged but larger tropical cousins, S. coleoptrata can live its entire life inside a building, usually the ground levels of homes. Though startling to many in appearance and speed,[17] they are not routinely dangerous to humans. House centipedes are not aggressive and prefer to flee when disturbed or revealed from cover. Sting attempts are therefore rare unless the centipede is cornered or aggressively handled. Its small forcipules have difficulty penetrating skin, and even successful stings produce only mild, localized pain and swelling, similar to a bee sting. Allergic reactions to centipede stings have been reported, but these are rare; most stings heal quickly and without complication.[6][18]

References

  1. ^ a b Steve Jacobs (2009). House Centipede (PDF). Pennsylvania State University.
  2. ^ Ricks, Winston. "Scutigera Coleoptrata". Animal Diversity. Regents of the University of Michigan. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  3. ^ Linné, Carl von; Salvius, Lars (1758). Caroli Linnaei...Systema naturae per regna tria naturae :secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Vol. v.1. Holmiae: Impensis Direct. Laurentii Salvii.
  4. ^ Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste (1801). Systême des animaux sans vertèbres; ou, Tableau général des classes, des classes, des orres et des genres de ces animaux. Paris: L'Auteur.
  5. ^ "Scutigera - Wiktionary". en.wiktionary.org. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  6. ^ a b c Steve Jacobs (March 13, 2017). "House Centipedes". Extension. Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  7. ^ "Centipedes: Chilopoda – House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata): Species Accounts". 2004.
  8. ^ Walter Ebeling (1978). "Chapter 9, Part 1: Spiders and Ants". Urban Entomology. University of California. pp. 323–353. ISBN 978-0-931876-19-6.
  9. ^ a b c Lewis (2007), pp. 185–186.
  10. ^ Faúndez, Eduardo I. (2011). "On the presence of Scutigera coleoptrata (Linnaeus, 1758) (Chilopoda: Scutigeromorpha: Scutigeridae) in the Metropolitan Region, Chile" (PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 49: 336.
  11. ^ Weekes, John (December 4, 2011). "Centipedes spawn fear and loathing in suburbs". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Shearer, Sam. "Redditor Finds Massive House Centipede In Japanese Apartment". The Rainforest Site. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  13. ^ Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, Carsten H. G. Müller & Magnus Lindström (2006). "Spectral sensitivity of the eye of Scutigera coleoptrata (Linnaeus, 1758) (Chilopoda: Scutigeromorpha: Scutigeridae)". Applied Entomology and Zoology. 41 (1): 117–122. doi:10.1303/aez.2006.117.
  14. ^ Lewis (2007), p. 120.
  15. ^ Richard Fox (June 28, 2006). "Scutigera coleoptrata". Lander University. Archived from the original on September 1, 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  16. ^ Enrico Negrisolo, Alessandro Minelli & Giorgio Valle (2004). "The mitochondrial genome of the house centipede Scutigera and the monophyly versus paraphyly of myriapods". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 21 (4): 770–780. doi:10.1093/molbev/msh078. PMID 14963096.
  17. ^ Eric R. Eaton (2007). Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. HMCo Field Guides. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-618-15310-7. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  18. ^ Jeffrey K. Barnes (May 22, 2003). "House centipede". Arthropod Museum. University of Arkansas. Archived from the original on 2017-06-01.

Bibliography

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Scutigera coleoptrata: Brief Summary

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Scutigera coleoptrata, also known as the house centipede, is a species of centipede that is typically yellowish-grey and has up to 15 pairs of long legs. Originating in the Mediterranean region, it has spread to other parts of the world, where it can live in human homes. It is an insectivore; it kills and eats other arthropods, such as insects and arachnids.

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