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"Horror of Greenvale" house centipede

 
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17605
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 11:28 am    Post subject: "Horror of Greenvale" house centipede Reply with quote



"Horror of Greenvale", it says!

Hey, don't blame me, I'm just quoting the Wikipedia article. Rolling Eyes

Quote:
The House centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, also known as the horror of Greenvale, is a yellowish grey centipede with 15 pairs of legs. Originally endemic to the Mediterranean region, the species has spread to other parts of the world, where it usually lives in human homes. It is an insectivore; it kills and eats insects.

The confusing tangle of appendages in the above picture is caused by an aspect not mentioned in the Wikipedia article -- these critters are also opportunistic cannibals.

A couple of more pictures may make the situation more clear.





What we're looking at is one large centipede that has captured and is quietly eating a smaller member of its own species.

The larger one is about 30 mm body length and 100 mm total length including extended antennae and rear legs. The smaller one, underneath and upside down, is about half that size.

I had never seen or even known about these beasts until a couple of weeks into this trip, when I found a dead one in a basement in Nebraska. Then I found a live one outside after dark at the same place, but it was way too fast too get a picture of it. (The Wikipedia article says that they can run up to 16 inches per second, a number I find easy to believe.)

The live one shown above, however, seemed far too busy eating to worry about me and my camera equipment. I found it on some carpeted stairs in a basement near Minneapolis, and it sat happily munching away while I shot a good series.

Interesting critters -- hope you enjoy the photos!

--Rik

PS. Don't take that "horror of Greenvale" stuff seriously. According to Google just now, this one Wikipedia article is the only place on the entire web that uses that phrase for anything at all. It's intended to be amusing, I suppose, but it's not appropriate given the source. I imagine it'll be fixed soon...

Technical: Canon 300D camera, Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 macro lens at f/18, off-camera flash with paper-towel diffuser.
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Michigan Michael



Joined: 04 Aug 2007
Posts: 193
Location: SE Mi.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik,
Excellent captures and very informative.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Michael.

BTW, it seems that "horror of Greenvale" thing at Wikipedia was actually a little piece of vandalism installed yesterday by some anonymous keyboarder. I undid it out of Wikipedia a few minutes ago.

--Rik
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Cyclops



Joined: 05 Aug 2006
Posts: 2931
Location: North East of England

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool beastie,i love things like this!
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P_T



Joined: 19 Jul 2008
Posts: 461
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Da mn I hate centipede, too many legs... I'm not scared of them or anything but the sight of them makes me want to reach for the insect spray. I know my girlfriend would be high up on my back by the time that centipede covered one inch distance. Very Happy

Those are disturbingly detailed photos you took there Rik, and thanks for the bit of info provided.
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Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
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Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If one of those things got on me, I would throw a "kiniption fit!" Shocked Don't ask me what that is or even if I spelled it right, just something we used to say in the Navy. Laughing Could be a clue to my arachniphobia, all those long legs. Rolling Eyes

Love the detail in these, very nice!
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Ken 2014
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Harold Gough



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
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Location: Reading, Berkshire, England

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just contemplating the length of the legs in the second picture when I saw the word "basement". I looks like a cave/cellar species and would probaly have problems getting around in soil or any by surface leaf litter.

Harold
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Planapo



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
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Location: Germany, in the United States of Europe

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked Great find, Rik! Didn´t know that "our" Scutigera had been introduced to North America, and then is occuring as far north as Minneapolis.Shocked

It´s rare in Central Europe, does occur in Germany in some of the warmest areas but can be regularly encountered in the Mediterranean, where it´s oftentimes a not unwanted guest in houses due to its fly-catching abilities.

--Betty
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments, folks.

I have to confess that watching this critter run probably made me more uncomfortable than anything else its size ever has.

I'm used to the short-legged versions, but somehow making the legs about ten times longer gives an entirely different impression!

Add in the fact that a few weeks ago, I happened to read a science-fiction short story involving a micro-safari gone bad when the (shrunken) human protagonists tackled the wrong centipede.

Wait two days, and hey, presto -- an honest-to-goodness disturbing dream complete with a slavering tarantula! Shocked

(Kind of a nice change, actually. Most of my disturbing dreams involve suddenly discovering that I'm late for the final exam of a course I hadn't even known I was taking. Rolling Eyes )

I wish I had some video of this critter to show you. They have the most interesting habit of carrying their very long hind legs extended and elevated almost like antennae. I have no idea what the purpose is.

--Rik
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gpmatthews



Joined: 03 Aug 2006
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Location: Horsham, W. Sussex, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
They have the most interesting habit of carrying their very long hind legs extended and elevated almost like antennae. I have no idea what the purpose is.


- so they don't trip over their feet, of course!
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Ken Ramos



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With those hind legs being as long as they are, I wonder if they might be used for jumping or standing. Think
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However, while there is grace where in all that I might live, while there is still breath in my being, while I may or may not accomplish anything more in life than to be living, I shall reflect upon the past, applying it to the present, for to possibly perceive to a near certainty, the outcome of the future.

Ken 2014
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken, I think you might be right about the "standing". At one point I moved the critter and its prey into a plastic container, so I could keep track of it for a while. I don't have any pictures of it there*, but as I recall it was reaching quite a long ways up on the sides -- about as far as extending those hind legs would have put it.

--Rik

*And why don't I have any pictures? Well, because when I started to take some (the next morning), I made the mistake of taking my eyes off the critter to set the camera. When I looked back, no centipede! I can only presume that I tipped the container a little bit and it found enough foothold to scoot out over the side. I never saw it again -- no surprise considering how fast they run! Laughing
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