Was discovered seeking heat on our campfire ring shortly after sunset.
Found under stones and personally observed between November and May.
The collection I identified was Scolopendra polymorpha, or the Common Desert Centipede. The Kingdom is Animalia, which is characterized by being a multicellular, eukaryotic organism. The Phylum is Arthropoda, which is an invertebrate animal with an exoskeleton. The Subphylum is Myriapoda, which includes centipedes and millipedes. The Class is Chilopoda, which have 1 pair of legs per body segment. The Order is Scolopendromorpha, which have 21 or 23 legs. This centipede falls into the Scolopendridae family, which is known for their larger size relative to other centipedes. The Genus is Scolopendra, which have larger venomous jaws than others. I identified the species based on the range of the various species, with this centipede’s range overlapping Wallowa County. It also looked visually similar to the pictures I found of this species.
The habitat that I found this centipede in was in moist soil underneath a rock. Most centipedes prefer this type of habitat. Centipedes are sometimes known to burrow into rotten wood or other organic material if no dark areas are available. They prefer these habitats because they lack the waxy cuticle which most other insects have. This cuticle prevents water loss, so centipedes avoid sunlight as it dehydrates them.
The species can have a lot of variation between different organisms. Scolopendra polymorpha can range from 10-18 centimeters in length. This is a bit bigger than the one I captured, at 5 centimeters. However, it was smaller in every regard, so I’m assuming that it is a juvenile. The species name polymorpha means “many forms,” for this species comes in many different colors. They generally have a darker brown to red to orange head, with lighter brown to tan to orange body segments. The legs are generally yellow or orange. The antennae have 7 or more segments.
Females take care of their 15-60 eggs, which are laid in soft soil or rotten wood. The eggs hatch after one month. The time it takes for these Chilopoda to reach maturity varies, depending on available food, weather, and predators. It averages at about 1.5 years for this family. The average lifespan is about 3 years, but this is affected by environmental factors as well.
There were a few adaptations that I recognized. One of these was the fact that each leg was a bit longer than the one in front of it. This allows the centipede to move without tripping. Another adaptation was the first two legs being shorter and mor segmented that the others. These mandibles are used for holding prey while eating and have poison glands which they use to kill prey.
Under a rock
Centipedes (from Latin prefix centi-, "hundred", and pes, pedere, "foot") are arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda of the subphylum Myriapoda. They are elongated metameric creatures with one pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, centipedes can have a varying number of legs from under 20 to over 300. Centipedes have an odd number of pairs of legs, e.g. 15 or 17 pairs of legs (30 or 34 legs). A key trait uniting this...