Bug Week


Red Centipede

No, Scolopocryptops sexpinosus is a whole lot more.

The red centipede tends to haunt dark, damp places including the spaces under rocks, rotting logs and discarded building materials.

This species is blind, but hunts smaller arthropods in the dark by detecting their vibrations. As a larger predator that eats pest species and generally minds its own business, the Bug Week staff considers the red centipede a Good Bug.

When disturbed, it runs surprisingly fast. When threatened, it can deal out a very painful sting from two modified legs that look like fangs, located right next to its head.

One Bug Week staffer learned the hard way about these bugs…

“When I was a boy I collected insects. And of course you start off catching the ones that are too slow to get away.

After awhile you start to notice certain bugs you’d seen but hadn’t been able to catch, for whatever reason. And so they start to present a challenge as the ones that got away, so to speak.

I used to turn over old logs and stuff, looking for bugs. And a few times I’d seen these big red centipedes, close to six inches long and fast as the dickens.

One afternoon, I went out with a pillow case and hiked it to some woods a few blocks from my house. And I turned over this old, moldy piece of plywood that was lying around and there’s one of the red centipedes.

Youthful enthusiasm got the best of me and I decided to catch this thing. And I managed to dive and slap my right hand on the centipede, lift it up and chuck it into the pillowcase. Midway through that action, I felt a sharp pain in my right palm.

I was only familiar with the little yellow centipedes you see on the sidewalk in the morning. I’d had no idea these red centipedes could sting.

First thing I did was dump the centipede out of the pillowcase — didn’t want any more trouble.

My hand hurt like the dickens, like a bee sting but more intense. I started to worry about how bad the effects would get. I was by myself, out in the woods. It would take me a few minutes to walk home.

Things didn’t get any worse, though. My hand hurt for the rest of the evening and was fine the next day.

So, as you might expect, I recommend that people treat these centipedes with caution.”