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Pests/Indoor/Outdoor Insect?


QUESTION: Hello. I am trying to identify what I believe is a common insect, but I cannot locate it in my Insect Book. I will attempt to attach a photo that I took but I am not sure I know how to do this. The photo is rather blurry but I think you will be able to identify it. The insect is brown, slender, approximately one inch or sometimes longer, in length. Its back, or body pattern appears segmented, resembling a "serpentine belt". It has many legs, approximately 15 legs on each side. It is not a centipede or millipede. It appears to have antenna at its head, and two attenna-like appendages at its opposite end. Usually I see one on the kitchen floor, although I have also seen them crawl out of the overflow drains of the bathroom sink and bathtub. I never allow water to reach up to the overflow drains which should be dry, so I do not know how or why the insect would be in there. Thank you for any information, Joan


The image is very blurry but I think it is a centipede, specifically the house centipede (see for a picture). Why do you believe it is not a centipede?

Jack DeAngelis

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QUESTION: Thank you for replying. The reason I don't think it is a centipede is because at my former house in Chicago, I had a lot of centipedes, they were usually larger than this insect and they had longer legs. This insect has many legs but they are shorter. Its body seems to be "hard" (similar to the body a beetle might have) as opposed to a soft-body, as I believe the centipedes had that I know of from before. This insect is always the same color, brown/reddish brown. It does not move nearly as fast as the centipedes I know of, it usually crawls at the speed of an earwig, although it moves gracefully or slithers along like a snake. I think I have noticed them outside also when I do gardening. Its antennae appear long, similar in size to the two appendages at its opposite end. If it is a centipede then it is possibly a different species than the ones I know of. My North America Insect & Spider book makes no mention at all about centipedes of any kind. The closest picture I can find in the book resembling this insect is the Dobsonfly Larva, but that can't be it. This insect I can pick up easily with a paper towel and hold onto it, whereas the centipedes in the past I couldn't get near them, they were so quick, they seemed "softer", and I was afraid of being bitten. It looks similar to the picture that you sent me via, its just that the behavior of this particular insect is different than the "scary" centipedes I knew of before. I don't know if any other details I've mentioned here, can help - but I appreciate your expertise. Thank you, again, Joan

I'm sure this is a centipede but from your description it is probably not the house centipede. There are many species that occur outside but only the house centipede occurs in houses. If you found this one indoors it probably came in on a plant or something else that was moved indoors. Large centipedes can bite but they are otherwise harmless. For images of different species google "centipede" and click on "images".

Jack DeAngelis


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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects such as aphids and spider mites, insects that bite and sting such as ticks and wasps, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.


see Fine Gardening magazine

Ph.D. in Entomology (the study of insects)

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