Lithobius forficatus


The Common Centipede is one of a number of centipedes in the UK. Centipedes are long, many-segmented invertebrates that live in the soil, under rocks, in compost heaps or under the bark of trees, emerging at night to catch their prey. The most familiar centipedes are the Lithobius species which can be found under rocks in the garden. Although some centipedes do have over 100 legs, the Common Centipede has just 15 pairs - one on each segment of its body. They have poisonous claws on each side of their heads which enable them to catch prey; but they are harmless to humans.

How to identify

The Common Centipede is has a broad, long, orange-brown body, with long antennae and long back legs. Common Centipedes have one pair of legs per segment of their body, whereas millipedes have two. There are over 40 centipede species in the UK, which can be difficult to tell apart.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Many of our commonly overlooked insects, such as the Common Centipede, are actually important pest controllers in the garden. You can encourage minibeasts into your garden by providing logs, stone piles and compost heaps for them to hide, feed and breed in. In turn, other species will be attracted to the garden, as minibeasts are a food source for many animals, including mammals, birds and amphibians, providing a vital link in the food chain. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Lithobius forficatus
Length: 2-3cm
Conservation status