9 Kinds of Centipedes & Millipedes Found in Louisiana!

Did you see a centipede in Louisiana?

Types of centipedes in Louisiana

Many people consider these strange creatures to be some sort of mutant worms, but luckily, they’re not. 🙂

In truth, millipedes and centipedes are much more closely related to marine animals like lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp. The biggest difference is that millipedes and centipedes are land dwellers.

Having them around your house is a huge benefit despite their creepy appearance. Centipedes eat silverfish, cockroaches, spiders, and other household insects; millipedes, on the other hand, ingest dead material they encounter, an important step in the food chain that helps keep us fed! They also carry no diseases affecting people, animals, or plants.

9 centipedes and millipedes found Louisiana:

#1. Greenhouse Millipede

  • Oxidus gracilis
Types of millipedes in Louisiana

Greenhouse Millipedes are found all over Louisiana. They originated in Japan and were carried to the Americas and Eurasia during trading expeditions. They’re around 23mm (1 in) long.

These millipedes are different looking than many of their cousins. They’re largely black or brown on top, with white legs. However, instead of having a round, tubular body of plates that integrate smoothly, they appear rather bumpy.

Greenhouse Millipedes also have an interesting trick. Recall that millipedes are related to lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp, yet there are no water-dwelling millipedes because they lack gills. However, this species can retain a bubble of air around their spiracles and spend an extraordinary amount of time underwater.

Unlike other species, the Greenhouse Millipede doesn’t have eyes, instead relying on its antenna to find food, locate mates, and perform other essential functions. They give off a particularly noxious odor when threatened. They’re poisonous to predators, so very few things consume them. Luckily, they’re not dangerous to humans, provided you don’t eat a handful of them!

#2. Long-Flange Millipede

  • Asiomorpha coarctata
Common Louisiana millipedes

Look for Long-Flange Millipedes in Louisiana in sub-tropical areas, including the Gulf Coast. They also inhabit the West Indies and even the isolated Galápagos Islands.

Native to Southeast Asia, these millipedes have been spread through the import and export business. Fortunately, they don’t significantly impact the habitats where they are introduced. Instead, they fulfill a vital function no matter where they end up, releasing minerals back into circulation to keep the food chain going.

They range from 1.4-2.8 cm (0.55-1.1 in) long. They’re dark brown to black with a large yellow flange on each body segment. The legs are reddish brown.

#3. Rusty Millipede

  • Trigoniulus corallinus
Common Louisiana centipedes

Rusty Millipedes are pinkish brown to brick red and larger than many millipede species. Because of these traits, they are easily mistaken for earthworms. The faint black stripes on its sides look like shadows, and the segments appear wormlike. Once you see their legs in action, however, you’ll know this is a millipede and no common worm.

This species has the honor of being the very first millipede to have its genome sequenced in 2015. This sequence was important in understanding the link between animals like lobsters, crabs, and millipedes and gave a much greater understanding of arthropods as a group!

Most millipedes, including Rusty Millipedes, get along very well with other species. They’re incredibly social (for a bug!) and rarely fight with each other as long as sufficient food and resources exist.

#4. Brown Centipede

  • Lithobius forficatus
Centipedes of Louisiana

Brown Centipedes are 18-30 mm (0.7-1.1 in) long and dark reddish-brown, like a chestnut. They have very long antennae and a matching tail to confuse you as to which end is the front! Of course, the head appears bigger than any single body segment, so you can always tell; the exaggerated size comes from the oversized fangs next to the head. Those fangs deliver a venom that is highly poisonous (if you’re an insect).

Slugs, worms, spiders, and flies make up the bulk of this species’ diet. Its leg count will top out at 15 pairs when fully grown.

Brown Centipedes like to hunt in Louisiana at night and hide during the day. If they’re not doing you the courtesy of keeping your home pest free, they may be out in your garden doing the job there instead. They frequent compost heaps where other prey may be found or seek food on tree bark that provides a home to insects. They don’t eat plants, but they do eat things that eat your plants, lending the nickname “Gardener’s Friend.”

#5. Eastern Bark Centipede

  • Hemiscolopendra marginata
Millipedes of Louisiana

The Eastern Bark Centipede grows to 75 mm (3 in) long. They have olive-colored plates with a black fringe and a thin black stripe down their entire length. The legs and antennae are pale, translucent yellow, while the head is brownish red. However, the same species can also be pale to dark blue or greyish-brown. Black, green, or blue fringe surrounds the armor plates.

Interestingly, this species is the only centipede in Louisiana known to have sexually dimorphic venom. This means that males and females of the species have different types of toxins, similar to how male and female birds often look wildly different.

Male Eastern Bark Centipedes have venom that interferes with bodily functions. However, venom from females is shown to which break down cell membranes. Either way, you should steer clear of its bite!

#6. Eastern Red Centipede

  • Scolopocryptops sexspinosus

As its name suggests, the Eastern Red Centipede is uniformly red on all its top surfaces. It has light-colored legs. Growing up to 6.5 cm (2.5 in), you might think this centipede is harmless, but they are noted for their painful bite, like some of their larger relatives.

Unlike other centipedes that get along quite well, the Eastern Red Centipede will eat smaller centipedes in Louisiana, as well as earthworms, spiders, and insects. It is fast and agile, making it a great hunter.

In their territory, they can be found under just about any moist object, such as wood, stone, bark, or flowerpots. They burrow in loose dirt, chunky bark, or just about any moist forest litter. This is not a species you’re likely to find in your house since it’s much too dry for this creature!

#7. Giant Desert Centipede

  • Scolopendra heros

Look for the Giant Desert Centipede in Louisiana in hot, arid climates with sandy soil. Sometimes its whole body is reddish, including the body, head, and tail, while sometimes, it is nearly all black with a red head and tail.

Nevertheless, in every case, it has bright yellow legs, so predators know it is dangerous. Its food consists of amphibians, rodents, and reptiles, but also flies, which it captures by raising the front of its body into the air!

The venom of the Giant Desert Centipede is not lethal but can cause incredible pain. Kidney failure and heart attacks have happened with severe bites, but there are no recorded deaths. It contains cardiotoxic proteins, histamines, serotonin, and cytolysin, which break down cellular membranes, killing specific cells.

In addition to being venomous, this species moves quickly and is relatively large. Giant Desert Centipedes can grow up to 20 cm (8 in) long.

#8. House Centipede

  • Scutigera coleoptrata

This species is the most common centipede in homes in Louisiana!

They’re yellow-grey, with three stripes running down their backs. You might consider them racing stripes with how fast they can scoot along!

The legs are thick and powerful near the body but taper toward the ends, contributing greatly to their ability to zip after prey. Their antennae are extraordinarily long to help them sense their next meal. Incredibly, the two “decoy” antennae on their back end aren’t just there to fool predators; they’re actual antennae that function just like the front ones!

House Centipedes may look creepy, but they can be a useful houseguest. Their favorite foods include insects and spiders, but they’re fast enough to catch and eat houseflies and grasshoppers, too. In addition, they like damp environments, which is why basements and garages are so attractive to them.

Outside, you’ll find them in damp spaces that stay cool, such as woodpiles, rocky areas with good hiding places, prey-stalking lookout points, or piles of leaf litter. If you have a compost pile, they’ll be there!

#9. Soil Centipedes

  • Order: Geophilomorpha
Soil Centipedes aren’t a single species in Louisiana but a massive family with too many members to mention. Instead, it is more useful to note that leg pairs vary from 27 to 191 (54 to 382 individual legs) depending on the species.

Their coloring can range from white to reddish brown, and they’re slender to aid their movement through the soil. These creatures are a bit flatter than most centipedes. Since they spend most of their time underground, Soil Centipedes have no eyes.

They move through the soil like an earthworm, pushing the front of their body forward and dragging the back towards it before repeating the process. Their goal is to find insect larvae and earthworms to eat, and they use fangs like all centipedes do to capture their prey.

They can range in size from incredibly tiny to monstrously large. The smallest individuals are 1.9 cm (0.75 in), and the largest is 19 cm (7.48 in). Luckily, since they live in soil, you’re unlikely to find this type of centipede inside your home.

Soil Centipedes provide a huge benefit that you might not have thought of – managing soil quality! These bugs digest and release nutrients otherwise trapped in waste for years. Their burrowing also aerates the soil, like earthworms, which allows water, nutrients, and minerals to reach plant roots more effectively. So even though they’re creepy, we should be grateful they exist!

Which of these centipedes have you seen before in Louisiana?


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*To explore more of the centipedes and millipedes that have been found near you, check out iNaturalist!

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