With that many legs, we'd like to know its name

weird unknown bug

Enlarged to highlight weirdness.

Today's episode of attempted crowdsource entomology: What the heck are these bugs?

Every spring we catch a few of these things scurrying through the house. They seem relatively harmless -- but, you know, they're weird. And some of them are rather large.

We've never encountered them anywhere other than Albany. The topic came up recently with a few friends around here and they, too, had noticed them but had no idea what they are.

So, anyone have the scoop? Please share.

Earlier on AOA: Box elder bugs

From AOA's Facebook page:


House centipede- I had them in an apartment once. I called them demon bugs and we are not friends. I named one Squirmy thinking that would make it less terrifying. Then there were two and any 2 can produce up to 60. Oh HECK no! That's when the war started.

They're called House Centipedes. I don't mind 'em but they really freak some people out. Wonder how many folks have swallowed one of these in their sleep.

House Centipede.

HATE them. So creepy.


I believe they're called "Silverfish"

I believe they are typically called house caterpillers - they live/like dark damp areas - hence all the feelers. If you turn on a light they usually run for a dark area (shadow, under something, etc.). They are harmless but "icky" if you try to kill them (all the separated body parts - legs, etc. keep wriggling for awhile).

I've heard em called House Centipedes (and a quick google search agrees with me), and they are by far the creepiest friggin bugs I've ever personally encountered.


I always thought they were some harmless caterpillar - seemed to like dry spaces in my house... now I'm scared to find out the truth.

aagggghhhhhh! Haven't seen one of those since we moved from our apartment....I also think they are indigenous to Albany..more specifically old houses in Albany (never had them in our old house where I grew up near Rochester.) Hubs and I always referred to them by the very scientific "big scary bug"!! (usually prefaced by the above scream)

House Centipede


I believe that is a silverfish



House centipede.

Silverfish! I hate them even more than spiders. Ugh. I'm gagging just looking at the photo!

From the Wikipedia article:
"... it is also possible to use the presence of S. coleoptrata as a form of integrated pest control in buildings since they consume many other household pests such as ants, cockroaches, and silverfish."

Cool. I'll have to tell my wife to stop killing them.

I always called them "Troy Bugs" because that was the only place I ever saw them... especially under all the unwashed dishes that sat in my sink in various college apartments...

Yep - the house centipede. I never saw one before moving to Albany. They used to freak me out, but I've grown used to them. They are actually your friend. They eat spiders and other bugs. Despite their freaky appearance, they're quite harmless. Although, I do kill them when I see them and I've already killed two this week.

What's that Bug is a great site if you haven't been there:


@Duncan I hate you and will never sleep again.

Ha! My cats love chasing these things!

I called them devil bugs! But, I think silverfish is their proper name... ;)

Good links above, but the important points:

- They are good bugs; like spiders, they eat the ones you do not want around.

- They do bite their prey, but their bite can't penetrate human skin.

- If biting their prey fails for whatever reason, they will literally beat it to death with that Lovecraftian assortment of legs.

If you come across one, toss it in your bathroom or basement so it can do its job and keep your place tidy.

House centipede. Good news: they don't breed indoors. Bad news: they can bite.

Well, here's the good news: House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and other household arthropods.

Sounds like a good cure to the bedbug epidemic!

Ah! They are insectivores. They eat ants, cockroaches, and BED BUGS. Handy little things to have around.

Uh, if you can stand their exceptional creepiness.

Funny you should mention those...things. I've blogged about them before:


I hate them with the fires of a thousand suns.

I always find them in our bathrooms. I think they come from the drains/sewers.....which makes them really bad.

Harmless, eat spiders (enemies of enemies...), and can't puncture skin. Remember that when one falls on you from the rafters and you are in boxer shorts.

They do exist outside Albany. I used to find them scurrying along the floor of my high school in Rochester.

Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew! And creepily enough, I've killed THREE of the suckers in the past two days! Ew!


I deserved that. :)

Between this and the superworms, AOA has been nicely squicktastic today. Good work!

House centipede. Different from a silverfish. You may have even less desireable bugs living at your house or a moisture problem somewhere. If there wasn't a food source that guy wouldn't be there. Keep him.

I've always heard them called silverfish

These f*&%ers are actually part of the reason I LIKE spiders.

B: 99% agree with your post -- they are great insectivores to have around the house. This is why I generally don't kill spiders, and why I don't kill house centipedes.

However, I know they can in fact bite because I totally took one on the hand. It was my fault; a teaching moment for my kid niece, and the little bugger (pun intended) left two good-sized welts on my palm. It was similar to a spider bite.

I'm sure that only the bigger ones can bite (this guy was monstrous, like 2.5" long) and that you're probably correct about the little ones not being capable of penetrating the skin.

I've always heard they're called "Silverfish" and I too haven't seen these until I moved to Albany - now we get them crawling around every Spring and Summer in my apartment. Terrified of them! It's worse when you're trying to caputure it and it runs away too fast and you end up not being able to find it again. It's very unsettling.

But I'm actually glad to hear they at least eat other pesky creatures.

@everyone who says they're silverfish: They're not silverfish. That's something different, though I can can see how one would get them confused while running away.


Good to know KB, I have never had one break the skin and I had never heard that they can, but I'm no entomologist. And while I like them it's rare that I'm brave enough to pick them up, I don't like them that much.

It's definitely a common house centipede. Silverfish don't really have legs like that. They eat other bugs but they sting them. Wikipedia says they're generally harmless to humans, but can sting you with about the same annoyance as a bee sting. I wouldn't stomp it but i wouldn't pick it up either.

I'm pretty sure these are in the first Matrix movie:

they ARE centipedes! Sliverfish are different as someone pointed out. We have been seeing them in our apartment lately and i am actually spraying Ortho Home defense today to get rid of them. That stuff gets rid of anything!

Cat toys.

Nick calls these "Albany Bugs"! My first encounter w/ one quite some time ago was while I was in the bath...and it crawled out of the overflow drain!! Jump + scream, bug is in the bath with me + freak out some more = hubs with the giggles for days.

Tess for the win!

To all who think this house centipede is the creepiest bug ever -- try being face to face with an Adirondack dock spider!

Silverfish also eat your books and paper. House centipedes won't do that.

I first encountered these little horrors in Chicago. You don't find them on the west coast though. Ugh, so hate these things.

LOL @ Tess.

Thanks for posting this, AOA. I used to see them all the time in my old basement apartment, as well as my husband's apartment before I moved in with him. We called them Funny Bugs and while neither of us were afraid of them, we both have a bug policy as follows: if you make your presence in our living space known (i.e., I see you in my house), then you don't get to stay. I may revise my position on these particular bugs after reading this.

However, I rarely see them anymore. Since me and my cat moved into my husband's apartment (and we also have since gotten a dog), we don't see them lurking quite so much. :) I think there were probably MORE of them in the basement (which makes sense), hence why Roscoe didn't keep up with the workload. :)

Watch, now I'll see one tomorrow, I'll want to squash it, and I'll feel guilty after reading this.

i didn't know they were so prevalent in Albany. First time I saw one was in Ithaca. Never saw one growing up in Philly, thanks goodness.

I have countless encounters with them, several of them memorable:

... an ex-boyfriend who was startled by one in my apartment ... AND SCREAMED LIKE A LITTLE GIRL

... a giant one that drowned in the bathtub while I was taking a shower ... which I was unaware of until it's dead carcass bumped into my calf

... a coworker once looked down and spotted one SITTING ON HIS CHEST and left two of its legs behind when he flung it off. He was so freaked out he went home to shower and change.

We got 'em way up here in Plattsburgh. Now we know who to blame!!

Mustache bugs. Not sure what the real name is, but when you smash them they disintegrate.

upstater, those are fisher spiders, right? Also kind of amazing. You'll see them all over the Adirondacks wherever there's a relatively calm pool, they dangle their legs in the water, feeling for vibrations from passing lunchables. Actually very interesting to watch. They can do some amazing things with water tension, too. Physics + arachnology = nightmares.

When surprised by a house centipede I will freak $%^& out. ESPECIALLY in the shower. But they are pretty cool to watch when you aren't caught off guard by one. Some people above said they call them Albany bugs, but I've only seen them when I lived in Troy :)

Also, when squished they basically turn to dust. It's not like a spider or box elder where you actually feel a squish. You'll check the tissue or paper towel used to squish it to see if you even got it... and all that will be left is a few scattered legs.

we've got them here in southern Rhode Island too - harmless but creepy. Cat loves toying with them though

In my house we call them "friendlies" -- a failed PR campaign attempted years ago by my husband to make me feel less frightened of them.

Now I just screech "FRIENDLY!" as I run away, instead of "MINDLESS DEMON CENTIPEDE FROM MY DARKEST NIGHTMARES" -- at least it's shorter.

They fill me with visceral horror. I think it's that fluid way they move.


Since last weekend was so beautiful, I decided to bust out the grill for the first time this year. You can imagine my delight when a giant centipede crawled out from the ashes of last year's barbecues to greet me when I opened the lid.

I had pizza that night.

My brother and I call these Freaky Freaks, and run for our dear lives when we see one!

My brother actually saved one in a zip lock bag and stored it in his freezer so he could show is friends how f'n creepy they are. FYI, he lived in Latham at the time; there seems to be a plethora of them in that area.

I live and grew up in Albany I haven't seen any here. Don't get me wrong, they are here, they just seem to stick to my basement and aren't crawling out of the walls and haunting the deepest darkest recess of my nightmares as they did when I visited my bro in that horrible place called Latham. ;)

@B Yes - That's probably what it is - fisher spider -- though your pix hardly creates the fear of seeing one. They are so big they can eat small fish! Reminiscent of the spider that gets washed down the drain in a Twilight Zone story (yes, I'm ancient) and keeps coming back larger and larger.

They hide in my shower curtain and end up in my tub when I pull it open. I HATE those things!!!

One of them just crawled across wall next to my desk not even three minutes ago.

I screamed. My partner had to remove it.

I've always had them in my house (wood-frame with a spooky brick basement built just before the Civil War), but I hadn't actually seen any in a very long time.

I think this one decided to show itself thanks to the publicity from AOA.

we call them "prehistoric bugs". we first encountered them living in center square, but, sadly, have them in our house in niskayuna as well. ick. i'm pretty sure they freak our cats out too.

Your comments made me laugh.
Oh, oh now i can't go back to sleep!

I see them less & less, as I've got a much tighter house, now - less bugs in general. They usually get trapped in my stainless steel kitchen sink - can't climb up the walls. I have gotten over my freaked-out-ness over them, & usually transport them outside. If I see them on the floor, I let them be, because I understand they kill other bugs. If they get rid of the ants, it's worth an occasional startle. Have taken pictures of especially big ones - which helped me get over my fear of them. They are actually rather elegant, compared to their outside relatives - hunting cheetahs compared to devil's toys. And they have eyes, that make them look like they have rather cute faces. My wife says I'm sick - I know. 15 pairs of legs, & three stripes. I have a picture, if there's a place to post it -

i just found on one of those things in my bathroom last night ... i almost step on it.... at first it look like a little fury worm... it did not run at first .so i was able to get a look at it .. it freaked me out it look like a hybrid of a spider and a cricket ...

the very first time i encountered it it was near my sink and moved so fast into a crack i thought i was seeing thing ... it only comes out when its dark..

im in riverside southern California ...soooo... there spreading fast!!!

Just saw one in my shop, ugly freaking thing, South Africa, Western Cape, Paarl

I wish they were limited to Albany...unfortunately we have them here in Kentucky as well!!! I honestly don't care where they fall in the food chain, I cannot stand to find these things in my house.....Totally freaks me out and I am the spider patrol in my family!! Icky, creepy, yuck!!!

Well if it makes anyone feel better, we have those horrible centipedes (we call them thousand leggers here ) in Pennsylvania. I have been HAUNTED by them since I have been 5 years old. (I am now 55) !!! I am now to the point of threatening my husband that I will divorce him if I see another one crawling on my walls (they don't bother him). lol But he says he sprays the house with that home defense.....seemed to work last year...........but not this one!! Sorry to go on so long, but as you can see I am crazed by these bas==rds!!! lol

I'm in So. Calif. and see them frequently in the house. I try not to kill any bugs if I can help it but have killed these before in my bedroom cause they can move faster than a roadrunner so couldn't capture the little suckers to let them outside. My new dog hates bugs and tries to eat all she catches so when she tried biting this one she just found in the bathroom the little sucker bit her back and she yelped and backed off.

Usually they fall from the cieling in our living room (its flippin scary) but just today I found 2 in my room. I freaked out and threw something on top of them and jumped on that thing till I knew the little rascal was dead. Ones still there under the thing. Uggggg im not touching it. I hate these bugs and I just want to gag.

I don't live in Albany. I live in Greenville, SC. And one of those nearly killed me about ten minutes ago. I think I have a new phobia (gulp!)

It's a house centipede. Despite being creepy, they're actually really useful - they kill bedbugs, mites, silverfish, ants, and wasps - so I'd recommend not killing them.

I actually encourage them in my house to keep out the bedbugs and such - they only bite you if you pick them up. People freak out over them (they're actually found pretty much worldwide, I'm in Alabama and I see them all the time), but they're pretty much harmless.

Interesting fact - they usually kill their prey by using legs adapted into poison-injectors (it'll feel like a bee-sting to you), but sometimes they're observed to beat their prey to death with their legs. All 30 of their legs. Brutal...

Hope I helped!

Found one under our bathroom cabinet in NC last night. First I took a picture. Then I called my husband to squish it. After reading the comments here, I wish I had let it be. He (she?) was really pretty.

They're in Cincinnati too. I have a real phobia when it comes to these monsters. They are ugly and disgusting and when they crawl, with all those legs, they are the ugliest sight.

saw one in glenndowie

Well one of these was found scurrying across our floor tonight. I live in California. I had to look it up because I am freaking out about it haha maybe I will be able to sleep to tonight........

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