Scolopendra subspinipes

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Scolopendra subspinipes
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Subphylum:Myriapoda
Class:Chilopoda
Order:Scolopendromorpha
Family:Scolopendridae
Genus:Scolopendra
Species:S. subspinipes
Binomial name
Scolopendra subspinipes
Leach, 1815 [1]
Synonyms

Rhombocephalus smaragdinus

 
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Scolopendra subspinipes
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Subphylum:Myriapoda
Class:Chilopoda
Order:Scolopendromorpha
Family:Scolopendridae
Genus:Scolopendra
Species:S. subspinipes
Binomial name
Scolopendra subspinipes
Leach, 1815 [1]
Synonyms

Rhombocephalus smaragdinus

Scolopendra subspinipes, commonly known as the Vietnamese Centipede, is a species of centipedes which mostly distributes in Southeast Asia. It is among the largest centipedes in Asia with a maximum length of 20 cm.[2] Currently, there are 8 sub-species recognized.[2] They are active and aggressive, preying on almost everything that they can overwhelm.[3]

Contents

Description

This is a large species which can grow up to 10 to 20 cm (3.9 to 7.9 in) in length or even more.[2] It has colour variations. Its body is usually red or reddish brown with yellow or yellow-orange legs. In common with other members of genus Scolopendra, it has 21 body segments with each segment having one pair of legs attached. A pair of modified legs known as forcipules can be found on its head, which is covered by a flat shield and bears a pair of antennae. The forcipules are the major tools used by the centipede to kill its prey or for defense, as they have sharp claws that connect to venom glands. Centipedes breathe through the openings located along sides of their bodies. These openings are either round-shaped or S-shaped. They have simple eyes with poor vision, so they rely much on touch and their chemoreceptors.[4]

Habitats

Despite the word "Vietnamese" in its common name, Vietnam is not the sole habitat of this species.[3] In fact, it can be found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world but it commonly inhabits forests of Southeast Asia. Some subspecies occur in Japan as well. It is also one of only three species of centipedes in Hawaii.[5]

Diet and Behviour

This is an aggressive and nervous arthropod which is ready to strike if interfered with and is sensitive to vibrations nearby.[2][3] It preys primarily on insects or other sizable predatory arthropods (like spiders). Sometimes, mice and small reptiles or amphibians are also on its menu if it is large enough to overpower such vertebrates. It will take almost everything that is not longer than itself.[3] During a fight, the centipede will use its entire body coiling the prey or enemy with its legs firmly attaching to the body of the opponent. Then, it will quickly penetrate its forcipules into the victim for venom injection.[5]

Reproduction

The female lays 50 to 80 eggs which she vigilantly protects until they hatch and the baby centipede molt once. If danger is detected she will wrap around her babies to keep them safe. The centipedes molt once each year, and take three to four years to attain full adult size. They may live for 10 years or more.

Venom

Bites from this species are very painful and may cause severe swelling, weakness or fever.[6][7] Venom constituents include compounds such as serotonin, haemolytic phospholipase A, a cardiotoxic protein and a cytolysin.[8] The Vietnamese Centipede is the only species that has a human death attributed to it. The reported fatal case was in Philippines in which the centipede bit a seven-year old girl on her head and she lived for another 29 hours.[3] Despite this, human fatalities resulting from centipede bites are very rare.[2][3]

Subspecies

Scolopendra subspinipes japonica
Sub-speciesTaxon author
Scolopendra subspinipes cingulatoidesAttems, 1938
Scolopendra subspinipes fulguransMuralevicz, 1913
Scolopendra subspinipes gastroforeataL. Koch, 1878
Scolopendra subspinipes piceoflavaAttems, 1934


Sub-speciesCommon nameTaxon authorDescription [2]
Scolopendra subspinipes subspinipesOrange-legged Jungle Centipede or Asian Forest CentipedeLeach, 1815Brown to reddish-brown with an orange head and legs; found not only in Asia but Africa and even Hawaii
Scolopendra subspinipes dehaaniMalaysian Cherry Red CentipedeBrandt, 1840Reddish-brown with red head and legs; found mostly in Southeast Asia
Scolopendra subspinipes mutilansChinese red-headed centipedeL. Koch, 1878Black with red head and yellow legs; found in China and Japan
Scolopendra subspinipes japonicaJapanese centipedeL. Koch, 1878Brown with blue and white banded legs; only found in Japan

References