In the South
With more than 3000 species of centipede described so far, and many more waiting to be listed, it's not always easy to give a new centipede "find" a scientific name.
This one is no exception so it's best to call it a New Zealand common garden centipede. There are several species that reference books group under this name.
All centipedes are predators and are able to hunt and capture quite large prey with what are described as poison-claws on the segment following the head. These are actually modified legs that function as jaws and are used to capture and poison their prey, which includes earthworms, grubs and insects.
The head is flattened as are the body segments, with each segment bearing on pair of legs. Centipedes have long finely segmented antennae which are sensitive and used to negotiate terrain and for touch. Mainly, they have very poor sight - some species have no eyes at all.
The species we often encounter is the garden centipede which is found in moist situations where there is some cover. Compost heaps are favorite habitats. This one got lost and was found indoors running across a carpet. Inside it wouldn't have survived for long as centipedes soon die if there is no water around.
Most centipedes in the 3 centimetre to 5cm range are harmless but larger specimens can pinch the skin and one native species of up to 16cm in length can inflict a painful bite. At this stage, it's not found in the South Island.
- © Fairfax NZ News