These centipedes are relatively small and have 15 pairs of very long legs; the legs give them the appearance of being larger than they actually are. The antennae are also long and delicate, and are moved in a whip-like manner over the body. Eyes are large and faceted (about 100), and resemble the eyes of insects. Legs and the tarsi are very long, sometimes with as many as 400 segments, and the walking and running ofthis arthropod are very unusual. Instead of only the terminal tarsal segments contacting the surface, all the tarsal segments are applied to the surface. Scutigera spp. easily lose their legs, especially the last pair; they break at a weakened joint near the base of the leg. The mouthparts are strong and they have large mandibles. The respiratory system is a single tracheal opening in the middle of the back, one on each segment except the last. Scutigermorph centipedes are predatory hunters, and they feed primarily on insects. They run and leap upon their prey; the long legs form a cage to hold the insect before it is pierced with the mouthparts. Only the soft parts of the insect are eaten. They are active at night, but may be seen during the day.

Australian house centipede, Allothereua maculata Adults are 20-25 mm long. The body is pale brown with dark brown markings. Antennae and legs are long. This species occurs indoors in houses and greenhouses. It is distributed in Australia.

House centipede, scutigera coleoptrata (Fig. 18.9b) Adults are 2.5-4 cm long; the body is grayish-yellow with three longitudinal dorsal stripes. The antennae and 15 pairs of legs are very long; the legs are banded with white. The compound eyes have about 100 facets. Newly hatched larvae have four pairs of legs; there are five larval stages, with 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 pairs oflegs, respectively. Eggs are placed singly or in groups of7-10 into crevices in the soil or indoor substrates. In the laboratory, females lay about four eggs per day, and 20 is the maximum laid in 24 h; fecundity is about 63. In southern France, S. coleoptrata lays eggs from early May to late June. Hatching is in 30-38 days at 20-21 °C. The duration of the first three instars is 7-9, 12-13, and 13-17 days at 20 °C. Adults live for several years. Prey species for this species include house flies, cockroaches, moths, bees, wasps, and nearly any insect and spider that occurs in domestic and peridomestic habitats. This species is distributed around the world, and it occurs indoors and outdoors.

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