Home Centipedes Different Types of Centipedes with Pictures

Different Types of Centipedes with Pictures

There are many types of centipedes in the world. They vary depending on their color, the number of segments, legs, antennae, diet and feeding habits, habitat and how they reproduce. Having an understanding of the varieties is an important step towards controlling these insects effectively.

If you’re having a centipede infestation and you cannot tell what type is in your home? Let it not worry you anymore.  Following is a discussion of various known species


Scolopendra centipede is from the order Scolopendromorpha. Its species include giant centipede, desert centipede and Vietnamese centipede. It has a long body containing 1000 flattened segments with a pair of legs on each segment. It is 10cm to 20 cm long and has a life span of 7 years. They have brown to yellow or orange color. Young centipedes are bright colored while females are more dark and larger than males.

They are dangerous to human beings and their bite needs serious medical attention. The bite can cause a lot of pain, inflammation, makes the skin red, severe allergic reaction and death. They stay under stones, fallen tree trunks and rocks. They hide during the day and come out at night to look for food.  They are found in warmer regions of the world.

They are carnivorous in nature and feeds on mice, frog’s birds, spiders, worms, cricket, moths and any other small prey. They occasionally eat each other. During winter they hibernate and their breeding season is in March or April. During reproduction a male centipede spins in a web and drops spermatophore which the female centipede uses to fertilize her eggs.

The process of reproduction takes 1 hour. The female produces and fertilizes 20 to 30 eggs and incubates them for 1 to 2 months protecting them from predators. When disturbed the female eats her eggs or young ones.  You can prevent them from entering your home by sealing exterior walls and using ongoing pest control protocols.

Stone centipede

This category of centipedes is in order Lithobiomorpha. They are long hard shelled arthropods with flattened head and bodies that enable them to hunt in narrow spaces.  They are brown in color. Adults have 15 pairs of legs and 18 body segments. They are 1.5 to 2 inches long.  They have short, fatter legs and antennae compared to other centipedes.

A unique feature of the female stone centipede is that it is large claw with two or more spurs positioned at the back between the last pair of legs. They prefer moist and dark areas and mostly move when there is rain or high humidity. In dry season they hibernate during the day and only come out at night to look for food. They prefer living in woodlands, rocks, soil, logs, mulch, under a pile of leaves and the forest.

They are common at the East Coast of Australia. There are among the fastest moving centipedes. They feed on insects, small animals, insect’s larvae and litter. Their predators include birds, large forest animals and spiders. They are dangerous and their bite is equated to a bee sting that needs medical attention.

Reproduction of this kind of centipedes is not done through copulation. It only occurs when the male centipede deposits its sperm and a female centipede comes in to contact with it and lays 10 to 15 eggs. The female covers the eggs with soil and leaves them to hatch within 1 to 2 months.

Soil Centipede

Soil centipedes live in the soil and are in the order of Geophilomorpha. The long thin and flattened segment centipede is pale in color with a yellowish tan head. Their color vary from reddish brown to white.  It has a slender and flattened top and bottom body and do not have eyes. Their length varies from 1.5 to 7.5 inches.

They have 27 to 191 pairs of legs and 14 segmented antennae that burrow in the substrate. They have stout legs on the anterior part that widens the burrow and aerate the soil.  They have a long rectangular head on the last segment. Sensory pits are located on the last segment. They are predators that feed on insect larvae, small arthropods, earthworm and snails.

They have reduced mouth parts thus they chew food with mandibles for external digestion. They have fanglike appendages that contain venom glands which they use to subdue prey. The good thing about them is that even though they are carnivorous they do not have venom and cannot bite human beings.

During reproduction they lay eggs in the soil, leaf litter, forest litter or rotten wood around 15 to 60 eggs at a time. Soil centipedes are found in soil, woodlands, agricultural ground, under rocks, logs and protected areas. They are mostly found in Missouri.

House centipede

This is a dangerous species of centipedes because it may live its entire life in a building unlike other centipedes that live outside the building. It is in order scutigerida or scutigeromorpha.  They have 1 to 1.5 inches, 15 pairs of legs and a long antenna. They are slender with long thin legs and move so fast at 4 meters per second on walls and surfaces. They are yellow in color with dark strips running down the length.

They are hungry insects with a high metabolic rate hence they clear pests in the home at a very high speed. Although they eat other insects in the home like cockroaches, silverfish and spiders, this does not make it safer. They have poisonous jaws which they use to inject poison into the prey. They have dangerous venom and bites human beings causing swelling, even though in rare occasions.

They prefer damp, warm, humid and dark environments like the basement, closets, cellars and crawl places. They are very common in California, Beaverton, Portland and some parts of Northwest. They look for food at night and enter the house through any opening including the under door and cracks. They are burrowers that dig by expanding and contracting the body.

 Prevent them by removing piles of grass around your home and store fire wood in a raised place other than the ground, have enough ventilation in basement and crawl places. Reduce areas of moisture in the house and outside that may give them a conducive environment. Also contact pest experts to terminate them.

Giant centipede

It is also known as Scolopendra Gigantae. They have 26 to 30 segments but generally 26segments. They have one pair of legs for each segment apart from the first and last segment. They have 20 pairs of yellow leg’s with tarsal spines, with a set of black rear legs that grasp prey and inject venom. On each side of the head they have four individual ocelli.

They have one pair of antenna on the head. They have shades of red color on the head and first two body segments. Other body segments are black with green traces. They are 6 to 9 inches long. They are carnivores thus eat feed on insects, lizards, frogs, small snakes, and rodents and other vertebrates. They are mostly attracted to moisture to keep cool.

During reproduction males deposit spermatozophore for the female to find and take up and lay 15 to 60 eggs in cavities of rotten wood, they care for their eggs protecting them from predators. Prevent them from entering your home by ventilating crawl places and other moist places to reduce humidity.

They also hide in buildings during summer to stay away from heat. When attacked they produce and inject venom through pincers and causes headache allergic reaction, vomiting and nausea. They are active both day and night and have a life span of 1 to 6 years. Giant centipedes are found in deserts, tropics and at the sea shore. They are mostly found in United States and in Mexico.

Tiger Centipede

Tiger centipede or Scolopendra polymorpha also known as multi colored. This centipede is under the order Scolopendromorpha and species Polymorpha. They have antennae of 7 smooth segments. They are 4-7 inches or 10- 18cm long and have a dark strip across the segments.  They have a dark brown, red, orange colored head and light brown tan orange segments on their exoskeleton with yellow legs.

Some other types of Tiger centipede are light brown, olive brown, yellow and bluish color. They are carnivorous thus they feed on insects, lizards, frogs and rodents. The predators include ringtail, bobcat’s owls and badgers. The bite human beings occasionally when disturbed.  The bite is painful and poisonous. They have a life span of 5 or more years

They are mostly found in forests, deserts, dry grasslands, under rocks, in tropics at the sea shore, bark, in crevices and rotting logs.  They like hiding from the sun by spending under rocks, bricks, potted plants and in the basements. Prevent them by arranging the rocks away from your home and remove a pile of grass and clear the bush close to your home.

Scolopendra galapagoensis

It is also known as “Darwin’s Goliath Centipede” and one of the largest centipedes in the world. Mostly found in Galapagos Islands and also in nearby areas in Peru and Ecuador. It is 10 to 12 inches long and one of its specimen is 16 inches around 30 cm long. They prefer tropical environment.

There are three colored morphs of this species. First is a dark morph that is Greenish black & dark yellowish orange stripped legs and a dark black body. Its main color varies from brown to black and the legs vary from orange to dark brown or black. Second is orange morph which is orange-red body in color with pale yellow legs. Third is the red & Black legged morph is very rare and found in offshore of Islands.

It feeds on small animals especially invertebrates and small vertebrates like newborn rodents. It uses its last pair of legs to defend itself from any attack like spiders. They have large mandibles that are poisonous which they use to capture pray. It has poisonous venom that leads to death. It loses a lot of water when breathing thus prefer humid environment.

Scolopendra Morsitans

This centipede is from genus Scolopendra Linnaeus is also known as red headed centipede.  It is 10- 300mm long with 25 or 27 segments and 21 or 23 pairs of legs. They have a large head with 17 to 35 antennae. It is very toxic hence important in medical and toxicological research. Scolopendra contain three families that include scolopendridae, Scolopocrypotidae and Cryptopidae.

They are arthropods and actively hunt their pray which includes amphibians, small mammals, bat, birds, rodents and spiders. It wraps itself around the prey with hind legs and bites it with poison claws. Its venom is toxic to mammals and insects but not poisonous enough to kill large animals. They are found in soil, leaf litter, in dry grass land, under rocks, in deserts and forests.

They have the ability to swim in case of floods. They have characteristics that enable them to survive in arid areas and semi-arid. They have less number and size of coxal pores to reduce water loss from the body and increase their rate of growth. Their life cycle starts when the male spins in a web and deposits a spermatophore which the female picks with her genitalia.

The female makes a depression of 7 to 10cm in the soil and lays 9 to 66 eggs and curves around them until they hatch. Some species of Scolopendromorpha offspring’s eat their mother.  They are generalist feeders that are important carnivore’s invertebrates in the soil ecosystem. In Asia is used commercially as traditional medicine. Globally they are 600 species.

In conclusion there are many types of centipedes in the world. Most of them are dangerous to human beings because of the poisonous that they contain in their claws and mandibles. The best way of preventing them is sealing any cracks and destroying the environment that may encourage them to stay in your home.


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