There are over 1,500 described species of stone centipedes that occur worldwide. All species are elongated, flattened arthropods with the adults possessing 15 pairs of legs and 18 body segments. They can range in length from 1” to 6” and can run very rapidly. While centipedes and millipedes can often be confused with one another, centipedes differ by only having one pair of legs on most of their body segments.
All centipedes have venom glands and the means to inject their venom. Centipedes use maxillipeds, a modified pair of front legs that curve around the head, as fangs to deliver the venom to captured prey. However, bites are infrequent and even the largest species found in the United States is not sufficiently toxic to be lethal to man. Centipede bites are typically compared to that of a wasp sting. Furthermore, centipedes are beneficial Chilopods since they are predaceous on many different arthropods, including insects and spiders. Centipedes require moist environments to survive and outdoors they thrive in soil, leaf litter, under rocks and inside dead wood.
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