Oftentimes referred to as the clear-colored or garden centipede, Scutigerella immaculata is not a centipede. Rather, it belongs to a different group of myriapods known as the symphylans. Approximately 160 species of symphylans exist worldwide and are commonly misidentified as centipedes.
Measuring only 7 mm in length, symphylans do resemble centipedes. However, beyond their physical form, symphylans have little in common with centipedes. Symphylans are arthropods that do not have pigment, allowing them to appear translucent. They also do not have eyes and use only their segmented antennae as sensory organs.
The antennae and postantennal organ form the head of the symphylan, which is capped by the mandibles, first maxillae and second maxillae. The body of the symphylan is soft and is comprised of 15 to 24 segments, protected by overlapping dorsal plates. Twelve pairs of legs are borne from the segments of a fully-grown adult.
Symphylans are extremely agile and move rapidly. They prefer subterranean habitats because they can move easily through the pores between soil particles. They can be found as deep as 50 cm inside the earth.
Symphylans are herbivores and detritus feeders, consuming primarily dead leaves and decaying vegetation. They may also consume vigorous plant forms such as seeds, roots and root hairs in cultivated soil. As such, symphylans are formidable pests in gardens and agricultural locales.