Wednesday 29 November 2017


Image: Bernard DUPONT
I hope you like legs...

Image: Bernard DUPONT
Because Thereuopods sure do!

Image: Bernard DUPONT
Thereuopoda is a small genus of centipedes containing just four species found in various parts of Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

They belong to the order Scutigeromorpha, the same as the infamous House Centipede, and they look nigh on identical. Only larger. Quite a lot larger. The body might be about 8 cm (3 in) long, but if you include the incredibly long antennae and back legs, a really big one might push 30 cm (a foot) in total length.

Image: Bernard DUPONT
No matter how big they get they're still House Centipede types, so they race around on fifteen pairs of legs, ducking and diving in dark, damp habitats under stones, among leaf litter or in caves. And if your bathroom or basement is a bit like a cave, well, I'm sure they'd be grateful.

Why not spread the love? Dump a compost heap in there and invite some earthworms along, you animal lover, you!


Thereuopods look incredibly fragile with all those dainty legs splayed out in all directions, but don't be deceived! Centipedes are ferocious predators and members of Thereuopoda are no different.

Few centipedes can cause any real harm to humans but they are venomous. They don't have a venomous bite, though. They have a venomous... stamp?

Image: Lopez Gutierrez B, MacLeod N, Edgecombe G
Stinger feet
Centipedes are so unbelievably blessed in the leg department that they can afford to repurpose a pair for uses other than walking. Yup, venomous legs! Now they can stamp their front feet to sting prey and deliver the venom.

Cute, curly grapple-legs!

Their other legs are useful for the hunt, too. Thereuopods use them to grapple with cockroaches and silverfish, pinning them down as the venom takes effect.

It is, in fact, truly horrifying. Be glad that centipedes like this aren't even bigger than they already are. Be very glad, indeed.

Image: Thomas Brown
Speaking of gratitude, Thereuopods and other Scutigeromorphs are probably more grateful for their legs than most centipedes. While adults have fifteen pairs, newly hatched youngsters have a mere seven. They add another pair of legs each time they moult until they finally reach their adult ensemble.

I guess you need to learn to walk (on seven pairs of legs) before you can run (on fifteen pairs of legs).

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