SCUTIGERIDAE - Dendrothereua sp.
Size: Up to about 30 mm body length
Group Guild Status
Eutroglophile Predator Rare
Species in the genus Dendrothereua are primarily Neotropical in their distribution, with only a single species (Dendrothereua homa) currently recognized as occurring in the United States (Edgecombe and Giribet 2009). However, a handful of other species are almost certainly present in the southern U. S., and these will eventually be sorted out by future taxonomic studies.
This centipede species has only been observed in the cave on four occasions, and only in the Jackrabbit Shaft. Two adults and two juvenile animals have been observed. Scutigerid centipedes commonly occur in humid environments such as cellars, wells, and similar situations where they feed on a variety of invertebrates. Here in Kartchner Caverns this centipede is probably feeding on the Australian cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae), which is an introduced species in the cave. The centipede likely competes for a variety of invertebrate prey with the Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus), which also occurs primarily in the Jackrabbit Shaft. A related species, which commonly occurs in domestic situations, is the cosmopolitan, American house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). S. coleoptrata is an effective predator of invertebrates, and is even capable of feeding on one prey while holding another with some of its legs (Acosta 2003). It is reasonable to assume that the species of Dendrothereua found in Kartchner Caverns also has this capability.
This species was not reported in the initial study, and it seems likely that it was not found at that time due to its apparently highly localized habitat within the cave. We consider it unlikely that this species occurs in the Park outside of the cave(s) since suitable habitat is otherwise unlikely to be present (on the surface).
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