Species: Western Yellow Centipede (Stigmatogaster subterranea)

Family: Centipedes (HIMANTARIIDAE)

Category: Invertebrates (Other)

Location: Widespread

A. Invertebrates (Other)

More extensive information on invertebrates can be found in a separate blog post.


This is a successful family of centipedes found almost exclusively in the northern hemisphere.

C. Western Yellow Centipede (Stigmatogaster subterranea)

Our longest centipede, at about 7 cm when they stop wriggling long enough to be measured, the Western Yellow Centipede is variously yellow or orange, and is a rapidly burrowing carnivore as are its kin.

Additional Information

Centipede Information

Centipedes are carnivores and will therefore have habitat preferences based on where there is suitable prey. They are active hunters with long segmented bodies and one pair of jointed legs per body segment. They are gardeners’ friends, being important soil predators, inflicting painful, venomous bites on their prey through a pair of pincer-like appendages under the head. As they don’t have the waxy cuticle typical of insects and arachnids, which helps with water retention, they must stay in the moist microclimate under the ground. There are four different groups of centipedes in the UK, which differ slightly in their anatomy but each has a head bearing mouthparts, antennae, and sometimes eyes (in two of the groups only); a segment bearing the poisonous pincers; trunk segments bearing the legs; and terminal segments with genitalia. The number of segments and pairs of legs of the adult is valuable for identification, but the number may be less in immature individuals because centipedes, after hatching, go through a series of instar stages, with moulting, before reaching adult anatomy and colour. We have 47 native species of centipede in the UK, plus 7 introduced species, and 3 records of doubtful authenticity.


Western Yellow Centipede

The Western Yellow Centipede is our longest centipede, at about 7 cm.

Western Yellow Centipede

Photographed on the finger of a blue rubber glove, this Western Yellow Centipede would have been 4 or 5 centimetres long.