House Centipedes
SCUTIGEROMORPHA ,   CHILOPODA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of Alex Buker, Kaleen, Australian Capital Territory)

These are not Caterpillars, but are in a special order of Arthropods (Insects, Spiders, etc.) called SCUTIGEROMORPHA. They are black or brown with yellow bands. Typically they have a long pair of antennae at the front, and 15 pairs of long legs including a rear pair which are as long as the antennae at the front. The actual body has a length of up to about 3 cms. However the overall length including the length of the antennae and the hind legs is up to 8 cms.

House Centipedes can run very fast, up to 2 metres/second. They can lose legs quite easily, but this does not seem to affect their speed. They are nocturnal and carnivorous, and hunting at night for other Arthropods, such as spiders, bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and ants. These they sting and kill before eating. The human skin is too tough for most House Centipedes to penetrate, so they rarely sting and bite humans. When they do, some people have an allergic reaction to the sting.

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(written 9 March 2016)