Clear-Colored Centipedes

Scientific Name:

Scutigerella immaculata

Oftentimes known by the common name clear-colored or garden centipede, this insect is really a centipede, but belongs to a class of myriapods known as the symphylans.


Over 200 species of symphylans are found across the world.They resemble centipedes, but are smaller and semi-transparent. Adult clear-colored centipedes are slender, white-colored, about 8 mm long and have 12 pair of legs. Juvenile clear-colored centipedes are born with 6 pair of legs, but add a pair of legs with each molt in the process of becoming adults. They do not have eyes, but do use their long, segmented antennae as sensory organs.

Behavior, Diet & Habitat

Extremely agile and able move rapidly, clear-colored centipedes prefer subterranean habitats in cultivated soil because they can move easily through cracks, cavities and earthworm galleries in the soil. They will move between the soil surface and depths of up to 2 inches in response to moisture conditions. Soil habitats that are high in organic matter are preferred. The arthropod flees when exposed to light.

The clear-colored centipede’s diet includes algae, fungi, mosses, dead leaves and decaying vegetation. They may also consume seeds, roots and root hairs in cultivated soil and may become serious pests in gardens and agricultural crop fields. Crop loss and garden plant damage is generally more serious during extended bouts of wet weather
or in water-saturated soils.

Adult clear-colored centipedes may live up to several years. The duration of development from egg to adult is temperature dependent and ranges from about 2-6 months depending on the temperature and season of the year. Most of the egg-laying by females occurs in the spring, but egg-laying may sometimes continue until the fall months.

More Information

Controlling clear-colored centipedes inside the home is relatively rare since the absence of moisture inside the structure will probably cause the clear-colored centipede to die within a short time. However, it might be prudent to contact your pest management professional for recommendations to exclude this symphylan and other occasional invaders should they become a nuisance problem.