We have placed a series of stepping-stones leading up to the compost heap and being an inquisitive person I lifted some in the hope of finding some ground beetles. Beetles were there none but a couple of centipedes were revealed. Most of us are familiar with the fast-moving bright chestnut Lithobius forficatus, common in our gardens and a formidable hunter of other invertebrates, but the two I had exposed are probably far commoner though their habitat beneath stones makes them less obvious.
The centipedes I had revealed were both specimens of Geophilus flavus. We often grumble about name-changes in both botany and zoology, but the former name for this species was Necrophloeophagus longicornis. I think we can all agree that this was a name change for the better! Species of this type, generally known as Geophilomorphids, probably feed on nematodes and other tiny soil-dwelling creatures. A curious feature of these creatures is the ability to move backwards as easily as forwards, making them quite elusive when being photographed.
Geophilus flavus, a common centipede. Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
6 November, 2018