Identify this bug!
December 19, 2009 5:06 PM   Subscribe

What is this bug?

I'm living in a recently-constructed tenth-floor apartment and have been finding these things on my floor. I have never seen a live one -- only dead remnants like this one. It appears to be some kind of centipede. Specifically what species is it, why am I finding them dead all the time, and how can I get rid of them? Thanks!
posted by event to Science & Nature (15 answers total)
Looks like a roly-poly (sowbug) to me. But you might check on What's That Bug?
posted by dilettante at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2009

Probably a house centipede. More at If all you're finding is the dead ones, someone else is probably doing the pest control bit.
posted by jquinby at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: I don't believe that it is a house centipede as it lacks the longitudinal stripes and its legs are much shorter ~1-2mm.
posted by event at 5:22 PM on December 19, 2009

Best answer: Dead millipede?
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:28 PM on December 19, 2009

To add: speciation is very difficult with just a picture. Is your apartment very humid or damp for some reason? Do you have a lot of houseplants?
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:30 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: My apartment is not particularly damp, beyond the natural humidity of this region of the country. I do have several houseplants.

I've posted a couple more pictures of the bug at different angles, for whatever it's worth.

Wikipedia says that millipedes have two legs per body segment, which this thing has, so I think you must be right that this is a millipede, not a centipede. But it sure doesn't look like any of the millipedes that come up on a Google Image search for 'millipede'.
posted by event at 7:05 PM on December 19, 2009

looks like a millipede to me. I get the shutters just thinking about it
posted by rebent at 7:55 PM on December 19, 2009

um, i'm going to say maybe lawn shrimp? thought what they're doing on the tenth floor is anyone's guess. i suppose they might be coming out of your plants . . .
posted by miss patrish at 7:57 PM on December 19, 2009

Millipedes usually come inside to overwinter, and if your houseplants were ever outside, the millipedes may have come in that way. They don't really do anything, and a lot of places recommend pesticides for control. IMHO, the pesticides are more harmful to the people than the presence of the insect (a lot of the time-roaches are one of those special exceptions, lol). Are you just annoyed by them?

I had several jobs cleaning houses while doing my undergrad, and sweeping up millipedes was actually one of the #1 chores that these people had me do. Millipede "infestations" are really common, and millipedes are harmless.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:38 PM on December 19, 2009

Does it have six legs? It looks a lot like what we Antipodeans call grass grubs. They're the larvae of a local species of beetle. Maybe you could find out which species of beetle are common in your area, and see whether your bugs match their larvae?
posted by embrangled at 9:54 PM on December 19, 2009

I'm a little confused by those pictures, actually.

It appears to have two sets of legs per body segment [like a millipede], but not for the first three pairs of legs [like many insect larvae who have 'fake' legs apart from those three permanent ones that survive metamorphosis] .

It's good odds that this isn't a larva of anything holometabolous [like a beetle], because it appears to have an exoskeleton. Lawn shrimp is wrong, too. Also *really* not a sowbug.

I don't know much about the worlds of centipedes, millipedes, or many of the other non-insect arthropods. I would guess millipede because of the two sets of legs grouped together like that. I don't know what the deal is at the front though. Maybe that's a common millipede setup and I'm just not observant.

so: millipede. The grouping of two leg pairs per body segment is the only thing that points very clearly in any direction.
posted by Acari at 10:21 PM on December 19, 2009

ps: millipedes are just about universally harmless. some release a toxic substance through their exoskeletons if they feel threatened. It is usually on par with rubbing a habanero on your skin. So not advisable, but not deadly under normal circumstances.
posted by Acari at 10:25 PM on December 19, 2009

It looks to me like a centipede, not a millipede. It is far too large to be a sowbug, and millipedes have more legs per body segment (two per segment, according to Acari above, and the segments that are clearly depicted in the photos have just one). Millipedes are also more blunt, compact, almost torpedo shaped - the sprawling multi-legged awful is more a centipede thing.

Centipedes are harmless, and most likely will eat harmful insects in the apartment (centipedes are arthropods, actually, not insects). I can't identify the species, but I would advise not taxing yourself overly with the task of getting rid of them.
posted by Wavelet at 11:12 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: Update: I found a live one! Pics: 1 2 3

The much darker color of the live on makes me think that it's one of these.
posted by event at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2009

Best answer: Yes, those are millipedes - they're dying because of lack of water, as they require a very humid environment. They migrate indoors during the late fall, so this is about the right time to be seeing them.
posted by clerestory at 5:05 PM on December 20, 2009

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