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House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the House Centipede



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The freaky, fast, and frenzied House Centipede makes short work of ridding homes from unwanted pests.



Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
House Centipedes have an abundance of legs that are so close together, they are almost feathery. The body is covered with black and yellow mottling with a dark line running down the 'spine'. Fifteen pairs of legs appear crop up around the entire body. Each one has light and dark banding on it. The last pairs of legs on the body are typically the longest. Large compound eyes adorn the head, and males tend to have very long antennae.

As terrifying as these insects may appear, the House Centipede is actually super-beneficial in the under-belly of a home, assisting homeowners in keeping bigger pests such as cockroaches and moths at bay. They are fierce predators and consume many insects a day. House Centipedes move EXTREMELY fast and run with their bodies held high above the ground, almost like floating on air. Only when they stop do they bring their bodies back down to the surface. Their ability to go from 0-60 mph/kmph in half a heartbeat freaks out even the bravest among us. They are not considered aggressive toward people and usually try running for cover when spotted. Though they are unlikely to bite people, they are able to inflict a painful nip if handled.

The House Centipede is a very common sight throughout North America, particularly in indoor locations that have high moisture. They are no stranger to bathtubs and will sometimes emerge from drain holes. Other house locations that they may be found in or around are the crawlspace, the porch area (drawn in by porch lights), and wash basins. They are mostly active at night, but are sometimes seen on or near walls during the day. In warmer climates, they can be found outdoors.




Known Diet of the House-Centipede



cockroaches, clothes moths, night insects


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Fast insect icon
Helpful insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Chilopoda
      Order: Scutigeromorpha
        Family: Scutigeridae
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          Genus: Scutigera
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            Species: coleoptrata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Scutigera coleoptrata
Other Name(s): Centipede
Category: Centipede
Size (Adult; Length): 34mm to 35mm (1.33" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; brown; ivory; yellow; white
Descriptors: many legs; extremely fast; large; helpful; biting
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 34mm (1.3in) and 35mm (1.4in)
Lo: 34mm
Md: 34.5mm
Hi: 35mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the House Centipede may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the House Centipede. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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