The Human and the Centipede

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday, 15 February 2019 06:54

Last weekend I went to an area I don't go often; Western Road in Brighton, the main high street where all the big shops are. I wasn't expecting to find a species that hadn't been recorded in East Sussex for 50 years though. I nearly tripped over this massive centipede on the pavement, it caught my eye initially as a hairy caterpillar but I soon realised it was a dead Lithobius centipede. I was actually on my way to the beach to see if Storm Erik had washed anything up and to exercise my back, so I had lots of pots on me. I have never seen the much commoner Lithobius forficatus in the middle of town like this, so I  had a feeling it was something good and it was clearly very big.

I keyed it out and it was fairly obviously the nationally scarce Lithobius pilicornis. It's our biggest Lithobius and can reach over 35 mm (this was 32 mm). Many thanks to Steve Gregory for confirming. Here are the details that show it's this species with short projections on segments 7 and 9 (the small sections sitting between the larger ones below) and more importantly, key spines in the right place on the hind coxae.

And here is the BMIG page for the beast. The last record for East Sussex was at Rye some 50 years ago! I have seen it once before in South Wales with Christian Owen. So, the moral of the story is, don't go anywhere without a pot!

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