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Other Invertebrates

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House centipede

Scutigera coleoptrata

These slender centipedes, which measure about 3 centimetres, are very similar to spiders, but have 15 pairs of legs. They differ greatly from other centipedes in terms of both body shape and behaviour. The surface of the body is covered with a waterproof layer, or epiticule, which enables them to live in dry conditions. Their thin, long legs indicate their ability to move fast across open surfaces. On the sides of the head are dense clusters of eyes, similar to an insect's compound eyes.

The house centipede is common in Northern Africa, Southern Europe and the Caucasus. In Ukraine, it is found on the Crimean coast. There are reported cases of synanthropic centipedes (i.e. ecologically associated with humans) in blocks of flats in large cities.

In the evening, the house centipede may be seen running across the walls or ceiling to hunt flies. In the daytime, it hides under stones or in other places with sufficient moisture. During the breeding season, the male and female first make contact gently with their antennae, after which the male deposits his sperm on the ground and the female then uses it to fertilise her eggs. When hatched, a young centipede has fewer legs than an adult. In natural environments the numbers of this species are falling, which is why it has been included in the Red Book of Ukraine.

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