Scolopendromorpha

These large centipedes live primarily in the tropics and sub-tropics, but several species occur in peridomestic habitats in temperate regions. There are about 100 species of Cryptops and 90 species worldwide in Scolopendra (Fig. i8.9d). These centipedes are distinguished by large bodies that consist of 25 segments, and by their enlarged terminal legs, which have large spines. They have large poison claws, and a history of biting people. They occur indoors and often find harborage in shoes or clothing. Numerous bites have been recorded from Hawaii and some of the Pacific Islands. There is some evidence that these centipedes have poison glands in their legs. In Nigeria, Scolopendra morsitans may inflict wounds by crawling over exposed skin. The large centipede, S. heros,irritates the surface of the skin when it crawls on the body. When alarmed, this centipede can make tiny incisions with its feet, and venom from the legs enters the punctures.

Many Scolopendra species are brightly colored. Arthrorhabdus formosus is common in the western Cape of South Africa. It is deep blue, with the head and last segment purplish red. S. morsitans is widespread throughout the African continent; it has ayellow body with dark-green cross bands; the head, antennae and last two segments are black, and the legs are bright

Scolopendromorpha
Figure 18.9 Arthropoda: Uropygi, Chilopoda, Diplopoda, Pseu-doscorpiones. (a) Mastigoproctus giganteus; (b) Scutigera coleoptrata; (c) Lithobius forficatus; (d) Scolopendra sp.; (e) Spirobolus marginatus; (f) Apochthonius moestus; (g) Microbisium confusum; (h) Chelifer cancroides.

orange. One of the largest species in the world, S. gigantea, occurs in Columbia and islands off the coast of Venezuela. It is about 26 cm long and 1.2 cm diameter. S. obscura is about 18 cm long and occurs in Europe, sometimes in peridomestic habitats. Nearly all the large forms like Scolopendra and Ethmostigmus live in India, Malaysia, Africa, and the tropics ofSouth America.

Cryptops hortnesis Adults are about 18 mm long and 1 mm wide. The first tergite overlaps the cephalic plate. The distribution of this species is usually urban habitats in North America, from south-central New York and southeastern Michigan to the Florida Keys, the Gulf Coast, west to Texas. It has been collected in Hawaii. This centipede is a European species that has been introduced into North America. A closely related species, C. parisi, has been recorded from greenhouses in Newfoundland.

Australian giant centipede, Ethmostigmus subripes Adults are 15-25 cm long and reddish brown; the legs are light brown. Natural habitats include under moist leaf litter and in damp areas. The bite of this centipede is painful and produces a local swelling. It occurs in Australia.

Common eastern centipede Hemiscolopendra marginata

Adults are about 57 mm long and 4 mm wide. Legs, antennae, and terga are uniformly blue or gray with a blue tint (Virginia, North Carolina), dull gray and green (Florida), yellowish brown with blue to gray bands (central and western Texas), or uniformly blue (eastern Texas). This is a slow-moving centipede that preys on arthropods. Natural habitats for this species include under the bark of decaying pine logs and stumps. In the urban environment, this is the centipede most often encountered in buildings in southeastern USA. It frequently bites humans, often apparently without provocation. This species occurs generally across southeastern USA, with minimal occurrence in the southern Blue Ridge mountain region, and extending to Texas.

Scolopendra heros Adults are about 145 mm long and about 17 mm wide. Ultimate and penultimate palpal segments of second maxillae have distinct ventral ridges, usually ending in sharp teeth; antennal segments 2-6 (usually 3-5) are sparsely hirsute. This is one of the largest centipedes, and perhaps the largest terrestrial invertebrate. Body color is variable and ranges from uniformly yellowish brown, yellowish brown with blue bands along the caudal tergal margins, to orange, reddish brown, and black segments and legs. This centipede is active during the day and night; it is an aggressive predator ofother arthropods and small animals. An individual was reported carrying a freshly killed juvenile long-nose snake, Rhinochelius leconti, across a road in Texas. The snake was over twice as long as the centipede, and was carried head-first under the centipede's body with its legs straddling the prey.

The bite of S. heros produces a sharp, temporary pain. It has been recorded in domestic and peridomestic habitats, including in swimming pools. This species is distributed in southwestern USA, from California east to New York and south to Florida. South of the USA it occurs from the Rio Grande and Mexico in general.

Scolopendra polymorpha Adults are about 111 mm long and 10 mm wide. The body is yellowish brown with blue to bluish gray bands on the metaterga. Maxillary palps are rounded ventrally and without ridges or teeth; antennal segments 1-3 are sparsely hirsute. This species is a voracious predator, and it actively searches for food at night. The venom has been variously reported as harmless to producing a sharp pain. This large centipede has been reported in gardens, indoors among furniture, and in a mouse trap. It is distributed in southwestern USA, Baja California, Mexico, and Central and South America, including Belize, Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil.

Common centipede, scolopocryptops sexispinosus Adults are about 69 mm long and 4 mm wide. The body is orange and without blue marks on the ventor and antennae. The cephalic plate is margined laterally; antennal segment 1 is nearly without fine setae, while segment 2 is densely hirsute dorsally, and slightly less hirsute than segment 3. This species is common in urban and natural habitats in eastern North America.

In natural habitats it occurs under rotting logs and stones, and in moist leaf litter. It is native to North America, and occurs from Ontario, New York, and Michigan south to Florida and Texas.

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