Brown centipede

Brown Centipede

Brown Centipede ©

Brown centipede

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Scientific name: Lithobius forficatus
A regular in gardens, hunting around compost heaps and under stones, the Brown centipede is a common minibeast. Despite its name, it has 15 pairs of legs - one on each segment of its body.

Top facts


Length: 2-3cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Brown centipede (also known as the 'Stone centipede' or' Common centipede') is one of a number of centipede species found in the UK. Centipedes are long, many-segmented invertebrates that live in the soil, under rocks, in compost heaps, or under the bark of trees, emerging at night to catch their prey. The most familiar centipedes are the Lithobiusspecies, which can be found under rocks in the garden. Although some centipedes do have more than 100 legs, the Brown centipede has just 15 pairs - one on each segment of its body. They have poisonous claws on each side of their heads, which enable them to catch their prey, and large, biting jaws, but they are harmless to humans.

What to look for

The Brown centipede has a broad, long, orange-brown body, with long antennae and long back legs. It has one pair of legs per segment of its body; similar millipedes have two. There are over 40 centipede species in the UK, which can be difficult to tell apart.

Where to find


Did you know?

Centipedes have poor eyesight, so they use their antennae and long back legs to feel their way around. In order to find a mate, the female releases pheromones ('love chemicals') which the males respond to. When a male locates a female, he presents her with a silk package containing sperm, which she picks up with special claspers.