“Centipede” means one hundred feet or legs. But centipedes don’t necessarily have 100 legs. Some young ones could have 8. Some older ones, 300.
A common house centipede, like this one, adds pairs of legs as it grows. First there are 4, then 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and finally 15 pairs.
How many legs do you count?
My first count was twenty-eight …
But I’ve since found that what first appear to be 2 long antennae on this house centipede’s head are actually a pair of legs on its hind end. That makes 30 legs, a mature house centipede.
So outfitted for ambulation, you might expect the house centipede to get around. In fact, it is said to have come from the Mediteranean to North America by way of Mexico.
Earliest reported sightings here in Pennsylvania date to the middle of the 19th century.
Keep an eye out yourself in the coming months. House centipedes can’t survive outdoors in the Pennsylvania winter and are likely tucked away in a damp dark corner of your place, helping keep down the insect population during silky nocturnal scurries across the floor (or wall, or ceiling).