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This Week’s Creature Feature: The House Centipede

A bug well adapted for Halloween 
      Late at night as you turn on a light, a sudden scurry catches your eye. As it disappears into a hiding spot, you are surprised by the speed and the flurry of legs.
       Recently, a Mediterranean centipede has found its way to the United States and now has been discovered in our area. Because it likes to live in occupied homes it is called a house centipede. This is a scary, creepy-looking big bug with up to 30 long spine-covered legs, two huge eyes and two large, black, fang-like stingers on arm-like mouthparts.
      However frightening-looking, house centipedes are actually pretty harmless and are quite helpful.
      As adaptive creatures, they are quite interesting. The two very long antennae are sensitive to touch and smell and used for hunting and navigating through the dark. The invaders are active predators and adjust their attack to match their prey. For bedbugs, fleas and ants, they simply grab and eat them. For spiders, they curl into a ball with their prey tucked in the center using all 30 legs to keep the spider from counter-attacking. For wasps, they give a quick sting and retreat, waiting for their venom to work. Sometimes they will leap onto their prey and lasso it with their legs. Other times they are slow and sneaky. If they are attacked themselves, they will shed legs and sting their attacker.
      House centipedes live up to seven years. The female lays about 60 eggs a year after an odd courtship. The male leaves a packet of sperm on the ground for the female to pick up.
       When the centipedes are hatched, they have four pairs of legs and add legs as they grow. Each growth spurt culminates with the shedding of an exoskeleton. They end up being about an inch and a half long with 15 pairs of legs. They have the potential to sting but are not known to.
     They are said to visit a house to rid it of pests. To get rid of them, get rid of your termites, ants, silverfish, ants, bedbugs, fleas and spiders.