Brown Centipede ©northeastwildlife.co.uk

Brown Centipede

Scientific name: Lithobius forficatus
A regular in gardens, hunting around compost heaps and under stones, the Brown Centipede is a common minibeast. Despite its name, it has 15 pairs of legs - one on each segment of its body.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 2-3cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The Brown Centipede (also known as the 'Stone Centipede' or' Common Centipede') is one of a number of centipede species found in the UK. Centipedes are long, many-segmented invertebrates that live in the soil, under rocks, in compost heaps, or under the bark of trees, emerging at night to catch their prey. The most familiar centipedes are the Lithobiusspecies, which can be found under rocks in the garden. Although some centipedes do have more than 100 legs, the Brown Centipede has just 15 pairs - one on each segment of its body. They have poisonous claws on each side of their heads, which enable them to catch their prey, and large, biting jaws, but they are harmless to humans.

How to identify

The Brown Centipede has a broad, long, orange-brown body, with long antennae and long back legs. It has one pair of legs per segment of its body; similar millipedes have two. There are over 40 centipede species in the UK, which can be difficult to tell apart.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Centipedes have poor eyesight, so they use their antennae and long back legs to feel their way around. In order to find a mate, the female releases pheromones ('love chemicals') which the males respond to. When a male locates a female, he presents her with a silk package containing sperm, which she picks up with special claspers.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.