T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Centipede (House) Genus: Scutigera

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Chilopoda
Order: Scutigeromorpha
Family: Scutigeridae
Genus: Scutigera
Species: It is not sure if New Zealand has more than one species. Possible species present in New Zealand are Scutigera smithii, Scutigera coleoptrata or an Australian species Allothereua maculate.
Common name: House centipede

House centipedes of the genus Scutigera have a spider-like appearance with large compound eyes, a relatively short body (2-3 cm), long, whip-like antennae, and 15 pairs of very long legs, making them amazingly fast and agile. They are beige-coloured with dark stripes down the back. In house they are commonly found in basements, bathrooms, and lavatories, which tend to be humid. They sometimes get trapped in sinks and bathtubs. They mostly live outside in cool, damp places, primarily under large rocks, piles of wood, and piles of dead vegetation. Their respiratory systems do not provide any mechanism for shutting the spiracles, so in dry areas of homes they will desiccate fairly quickly and die. 

They are mostly nocturnal hunters feeding on flies, spiders, cockroaches, ants, and other arthropods. When hunting they rely mostly on their antennae which are sensitive smells and tactile information. After capturing their prey they administer venom through modified legs (forcipules). These are not part of their powerful mandibles. They can bite but they are considered harmless to people.







A video of a Scutigera centipede and praying mantis fighting.