Outdoors World Around You
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Sunday, December 23, 2012
12/23/12 at 7:18 AM
A centipede is not a typical wintertime sight, but as Oklahoma State University Entomologist Richard Grantham put it, "I think any large predator will come out on a warm day if their tummy is growling loud enough!"
Like ticks and spiders, centipedes are arthropods. They have a flattened worm-like body with one pair of legs on each body segment.
The giant desert centipede is the most common species of centipede found in Oklahoma, Grantham said.
He has seen them in various colors, from yellowish-brown to dark brown with a reddish-brown head. The centipede ranges in size from 3 to 8 inches, according to Iowa State University's BugGuide.net.
In winter, centipedes usually retreat to secluded, moist areas. They lay eggs in spring and summer. Some centipedes can live five or six years in Oklahoma, according to an OSU Cooperative Extension fact sheet.
Centipedes are fast predators that eat smaller arthropods and insects. Usually they hide in dark areas, under logs, stones or leaf mulch during the day and search for prey at night. Their head bears a pair of long antennae and jaws containing venom are located on the first body segment behind the head. Centipedes capture prey in their jaws and inject venom to kill it.
The bite is not lethal to children or adults but may produce a reaction similar to a bee sting.
According to the OSU fact sheet, some say a centipede walking on your skin kills the tissue and causes the skin to rot, but that is a myth.
Original Print Headline: Outdoors World Around You
A giant desert centipede crawls through tall grass on a hillside north of Tulsa. This centipede is about 4 inches long, and they range in size from 3 to 8 inches. KELLY BOSTIAN/Tulsa World