Not long ago, I was at my desk in my office when a shadowy movement flickered through the corner of my eye. I glanced over to see this wraithlike leggy arthropod shimmer up the wall at lightning speed. Rather than disappear into a crevice or cranny as they so often do, it paused. My lucky day! With camera at hand, I was able to get some shots.
Kind of hard to tell which end is which, eh? The term for that - head looking like tail - is automimicry, and the idea is to fool predators into snapping at the wrong end. The centipede's head is at the bottom in the above photo. Fooled me - took the Sentimental Sapsucker to set me right! (see comments)
Check those legs - 15 pairs! All those feet make for a real speed demon, and House Centipedes can allegedly cover an astonishing 16 inches in a second. Anyone who has ever seen one at full gallop would probably believe that claim.
The biting parts are armed with venom glands. Not to fear - it's mouth parts are too small to penetrate our skin, but spiders are not so lucky.
Chances are good that some of these fascinating creatures reside in YOUR dwelling. They're generally nocturnal and prone to lurking in humid climes, which typically relegates them to the basement. And if you are like most people, chances are you're more afraid of spiders than centipedes, so it might be best to just let 'em be. They'll be hard at work when you are sleeping, scuttling about spider-hunting.
Plus, let it be known that House Centipedes have incredible longevity. If all goes well, one can last for seven years. Thoughtlessly crush one, and you've just made paste of an animal that can outlive most songbirds. Better to allow them to guard the basement, serving as efficient spider sentinels.