Western Yellow Centipede Haplophilus subterraneus


Class Chilopoda (Centipedes)
Order Geophilomorpha (Soil centipedes)
Family Himantariidae
Species Haplophilus subterraneus (Shaw, 1789)

Length 70 mm.

This is Britain’s longest centipede. It belongs to a group called Geophilomorpha, the so-called ‘earth centipedes’ or ‘soil centipedes’. They are also sometimes referred to as ‘wire centipedes’ or ‘wireworms’, and you can see why because of their long length and thin appearance. If you took the trouble to count the leg segments you would count 81 of them, which adds up to 162 legs. They can have between 77 and 83 leg segments, which is a diagnostic feature of this species. Another key feature which helps identify it are the numerous small coxal pores on the last leg bearing section.

It is a predatory animal which will hunt other invertebrates, but will also nibble on the roots of plants. Found in various habitats, especially in urban environments like parks and gardens in soil, amongst plant roots, under rocks and stones, paving slabs, small logs, in leaf litter and under moss.

Seen all year round. Common and widespread up to southern Scotland. Native to Britain.

Found in back garden, South Staffordshire May 2021. © Peter Hillman.

Species identification confirmed and recorded by an expert from iRecord.