These are small, shiny centipedes with long legs. They are fast-moving and often occur under stones or in the top layer of soil. The body is usually limited to about 15 segments; dorsal tergites are not uniform in size, and usually a large segment alternates with a small one. Some of these species can produce a slimy secretion from pores on the terminal legs; this substance is used as a means of defense. The legs break at a specifically weakened joint near the base; the leg lost to predators is replaced at the next molt.

Lithobius forficatus (Fig. 18.9c) Adults are 18-32 mm long, shiny and dark brown; there are 15 pairs of legs. This species is distributed in the UK, and it occurs indoors in sites such as under sinks and in other damp locations. A closely related species, L. erythrocephalus, is about 35 mm long and may occur in peridomestic habitats in Europe.

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