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Common Name: The Brown Centipede

Scientific Name: Lithobius forficatus

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Chilopoda

Order: Lithobiomorpha

Family: Lithobiidae

Genus: Lithobius

Species: L. forficatus


There are a lot of different types of centipedes. Lithobius fortficatus is most commonly known as the Brown Centipede. This centipede is often found and seen in northern Europe and the British Isles. It is similar to other European centipedes, especially the striped centipede, but the Brown Centipede does not have stripes on its legs, instead it is a chestnut brown color. The Brown Centipede can grow up to 3 cm long and has 15 pairs of legs. It is one of the most common and widespread centipedes. The Brown Centipede can make its home anywhere from the woods to the seashore to even a garden. It is found in both urban and rural areas and is often found inside garden sheds, houses and other buildings, especially in with items stored in dark, damp places. They also like to be under rocks or logs.

There are an estimated 8,000 species of centipedes. Currently there are 3,000 described species. Only about a dozen are what is called common and widely distributed. They are found all times of year but are most numerous in spring and autumn. The centipede with all of their legs is actually a very fast animal. They use their speed to catch their prey which is woodlice, spiders, mites, beetles, and many other insects. They also eat worms and slugs.

Their speed and poisonous claws give centipedes a good defense against their enemies. Little is known about animals that eat centipedes, but birds and toads do feed on them. The Brown Centipede is an interesting animal. An interesting fact I learned about them is that even though the name suggests they have 100 legs, they actually only have between 30 and 202 in an adult male. The centipede, with so many legs moving about, doesn’t trip on its feet because each leg is slightly longer than the one in front. If a centipede loses a leg when it is younger, it can actually grow another one in its place.

Author: Brandon M.

Published: 5/2008


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