- Size: Up to 3 cm body length, with legs that can reach 7 cm
- Color: Yellowish-brown with dark bands
- Distinctive Feature: Long legs, moves very quickly
- Habitat: Damp areas, basements, under stones, in bathrooms
Appearance of the House Centipede
The house centipede, scientifically known as Scutigera coleoptrata, is an arthropod distinguished by its unique and striking appearance. With a segmented body that can reach up to 30 millimeters in length, this centipede has a color ranging from yellow to gray with darker markings. Its body is flat and elongated, allowing it to squeeze into very small cracks. One of its most notable characteristics is its long legs. It has 15 pairs of thin, elongated legs that extend laterally and are often mistaken for antennae. These legs, increasing in length with the posterior segments of the body, give it remarkable agility. Its antennae are also long and sensitive, used to detect prey and the environment.
Habitat of the House Centipede
The house centipede is a frequent inhabitant of human dwellings, particularly in damp places such as bathrooms, basements, and kitchens, where it can find a constant supply of water. It prefers cool, damp environments and is often found under stones, tree barks, and in compost outside of houses. Indoors, it is attracted to dark and damp places, like under sinks, in pipes, or behind furniture. Although it can survive in a variety of conditions, it avoids light and prefers to stay hidden during the day, becoming more active at night.
Behavior of the House Centipede
The house centipede is a fast and agile predator, capable of moving at high speeds to capture its prey. It primarily feeds on insects such as spiders, flies, cockroaches, and sometimes other centipedes. Its hunting behavior is characterized by a quick and precise attack, using its front legs to immobilize the prey before injecting venom through forcipules, jaw-like structures located under the head. Despite its intimidating appearance, the house centipede is generally harmless to humans. It is nocturnal and flees from light and movement, meaning it is rarely seen. In the face of a threat, its first reaction is often to flee rather than attack.
Distinguishing the House Centipede from Other Insects
The earwig, or dermapteran, is easily distinguished from the house centipede by its appearance and behavior. Unlike the centipede, the earwig has an elongated and somewhat flat body, but shorter, with a characteristic pair of pincers (cerci) at the end of its abdomen. Its color varies from brown to black, and it has wings folded under elytra, though it rarely flies. In terms of size, the earwig is generally smaller than the centipede, measuring about 12 to 25 mm. It is also less quick and agile, and its diet is different, often including plant matter.
The silverfish, or Lepisma saccharina, is distinguished by its elongated and flattened body covered with silvery scales, giving it a shiny and metallic appearance. This small insect, generally measuring between 12 and 19 mm, is wingless and has three tail-like appendages at the rear of its body. Unlike the house centipede, the silverfish is known for its relative slowness and its tendency to feed on starchy