How many legs?
Not sure what it says about the state of our housekeeping, but we had a visitor in the bathroom this morning: this rather nice common brown centipede Lithobius forficatus who had got stuck and was running around in search of somewhere to hide.
We picked him up on some tissue paper and popped him outside. If it’s lucky to find a spider (8 legs) in your bath, surely it’s nearly four times luckier to find a centipede (30 legs in our case)? Pub quiz fact: no centipede has exactly 100 legs – the actual number varies widely with species, but they can only ever have an odd number of pairs (e.g. 15 pairs = 30 legs in the case of our little friend here). So 98 (49 pairs) or 102 (51 pairs) would be possible, but 100? Sorry, no.
Henry says – I was a bit scared because he looked scary and kept running around. Catherine says – put him outside, Daddy. Put him now!
There’s something about the way a centipede looks that tells you they’re predatory carnivores – they’re all kind of skittery, spiky and aggressively sticky-out-y. Unlike millipedes which are slower, smoother, rounded and somehow cuter and therefore look more like herbivores (usually “detrivores” which Henry explains means they eat rotting plants). [Actually some millipedes are hunters too, but that’s an exception which proves the rule.]
When they’re barely an inch long, there’s nothing to be frightened of. But if we ever found a Scolopendra in the shower, it’d be a different story!