FAUNA and FUNGHI of MALTA
(www.MaltaFauna.com)
Scutigera coleoptrata  (Linnaeus, 1758)
Main synonym = Cermatia coleoptrata    Illiger 1807
Taxonomical Classification:  Animalia / Arthropoda / Chilopoda / Scutigeromorpha / Scutigeridae
House centipede     Maltese name not known
Further Information:
S. coleoptrata is 25 mm to 50 mm in length and has up to 15 pairs of remarkably long legs. These delicate legs are attached to a rigid body. This enables it to reach surprising speeds of up to 40cm per second. Apart from running rapidly across floors, they can also climb up walls and wander at ceilings. Its yellowish-grey body has three dark-colored dorsal stripes running down its length and so does its legs. Unlike most other centipedes, house centipedes have well-developed, faceted eyes. S. coleoptrata has developed automimicry in that its hind legs present the appearance of antennae.

When at rest, it is not easy to tell its front from its back! The predator, often attacking from the back, hence approach the house centipede from the front, making it easy for the latter to see the predator movements and escape with it rapid speed.

House centipedes are nocturnal hunters and feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and other household arthropods. Their feet (not the mouth) are specialised to inject venom to its prey. When the centipede is in danger of becoming prey itself, it can detach any legs that have become trapped.

House centipedes, as the name suggest prefer to seek shelter in houses, but the majority are found outdoors, where they prefer to live in cool, damp places, namely under large rocks, piles of wood. The respiratory systems of this species do not provide any mechanism for shutting the spiracles and so that is why they need an environment that protects them from dehydration and excessive cold.






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