Rare, venomous Scutigera coleoptrata, known commonly as a House Centipede, with less than 50 recorded UK sightings discovered in home in Upton, near Newark
A rare, venomous, carnivorous centipede with fewer than 50 recorded sightings in the UK has been spotted in a home, with climate change believed to be the cause.
Richard Jones, of Upton, found the unlikely visitor in his downstairs bathroom on Thursday, January 11.
Scutigera coleoptrata, known as the House Centipede, has 15 pairs of legs, and is the fastest-moving centipede in the world.
Despite their carnivorous diet, consisting of other anthropods, the House Centipede’s bite is harmless to humans.
Dr Jones said: “I’m delighted, it’s just the kind of thing that excites me.
“The response that has come from other people aware of the find is great, they’re really excited and say how lucky I am.”
The anthropods can grow up to 30mm in the body, excluding the creature’s long legs, with the example found in Upton measuring 25mm.
Upon discovery of the rare creepy-crawly, a record was sent to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, and its identity was confirmed by Steve Gregory, a published expert on centipedes.
A record of the find has also been included on eakringbirds.com, a site collating information on Nottinghamshire’s array of wildlife, which lists it as “Nottinghamshire's first officially documented record of Scutigera coleoptrata”.
Trevor Pendleton, who runs the site, added: “Richard's Scutigera record is quite astonishing on both a national and county level. It's also likely to be the forerunner of further records, which could occur anywhere indoors.
“People should be on the lookout for Scutigera and I would welcome any specimens or records.”
Dr Jones added: “Right now I’m doing everything possible to keep it undisturbed.
“They can live for up to seven years — which is a long time for my bathroom to not be cleaned.”
Research published by Mr Gregory in early 2023 revealed just 38 recorded sightings of the centipedes in the UK since 1883 with just a ‘handful’ between 1883 and the 1990s.
A further ten have been added to records in 2023, Mr Jones explained, which led him to believe this to be the 48th or 49th recorded sighting.
Mr Gregory’s research states: “Although it is likely that ready access to the internet and social media in recent decades has facilitated the recognition and identification of this distinctive species it is suggested that the major contributing factor to this recent increase in observations is climate change which favours this species originally from southern Europe.”
The centipedes originate from the Mediterranean region — although one other is believed to have been observed in Nottinghamshire.
Eakring Birds describes an “unsubmitted claim of Scutigera coleoptrata from Gedling back in 2010”.
Many of the recorded sightings of the centipedes are shown on an iRecords map managed by Mr Gregory, which, while not a complete record of sightings, accurately showcases the distribution of the species across the UK from 2015 onwards.
The centipedes have most commonly been recorded in the South of the UK.
Erin McDaid of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said: “The species is not native to the UK and is thought to have arrived with produce from the Mediterranenan. Having previously been thought very rare in Britain, with only a handful of records up to the 1990s, there has been an increase in records over the past 10 years or so, mainly in Southern England.
“Whilst some of this increase may be due to warming temperatures, increased access to the internet and ease of identification of the species may also have boosted the number of records. It has now spread to many parts of Europe, Asia, North and South America and Australia.
“With its many pairs of legs and quick, darting movement, they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but these amazing looking creatures are brilliant hunters that do a good job keeping on top of other insects such as flies, spiders, ants and silverfish - and they are otherwise pretty harmless.”