|Image: Bruce Marlin|
I think some sensitivity to the plight of the poor old silverfish is in order, no?
Aside from silverfish, ants, termites, cockroaches and bedbugs can all find themselves becoming grist for the House Centipede's mandible. That's quite a cabal of household horrors! Actually, almost anything with an exoskeleton is unwanted in most homes, so House Centipedes can't help but be an effective insecticide that also happens to leave far fewer corpses lying around. The only problem is that they themselves have an exoskeleton. Aside from that, they can't put a foot wrong!
Well, they can also sting and cause swelling and a rash... also, they reach some 1 or 2 inches in length and scurry around at night... but aside from that, and the way they look... OK, House Centipedes have quite a few problems to overcome if they want to become a welcome member of the family. They put quite a few feet wrong, not least by having up to 30 feet.
I guess you can't call them "leggy blondes", can you? Those long, spindly legs are pretty extraordinary, though. It all looks tremendously complicated and leaves them almost comically lanky.
You may notice that their back legs are the longest and they get shorter and shorter as you reach the head. This isn't a preposterous attempt at being aerodynamic, it actually means that each leg can step over the ones in front so they can run around with surprising speed without tripping over themselves. Those legs are also quite fragile and break off easily to aid them in an escape, leaving them with a mere 29 legs. Calamity! They'll be regrown with the next moult, though. Phew!
|Image: Tim Gage|
Mating occurs in the Spring, where the female lays more or less 100 eggs. She looks after them for several weeks, holding them in her legs and cleansing them of fungus. She will even keep hold of the larvae after they hatch. I suppose she's worried because at that point they only have 8 legs. 8 measly legs! Eventually she must let go, whereupon dozens of young House Centipedes march off to begin their lives. Party at your house!