Centipede species: geophilomorphs 

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Ballophilus australiae Chamberlin, 1920

Ballophilus australiae

Ballophilus australiae is widespread on the eastern Australian mainland, but is so far only known from three Tasmanian localities: Bottle Creek on the West Coast, West Head near Greens Beach and Ettrick River, King Island. Additional records would be very welcome. This species is easily identified by its distinctive antennae, tiny head and dark blue patches on the underside of the body. Full-grown specimens are ca 25 mm long.

Chamberlin (1920) 

Tasmania mapBallophilus australiae

Geophilus flavus (De Geer, 1778)

Geophilus flavus

A widespread species in Europe, Geophilus flavus has been introduced into North America and Australia. (Synonyms include Geophilus longicornis and Necrophloeophagus longicornis.) The earliest Tasmanian specimen I've seen is dated 1959. G. longicornis is common in gardens and waste places in the Hobart area, where it grows to ca 35 mm long. It is likely to be living in towns and gardens elsewhere in Tasmania, and is the only geophilomorph in my garden in Penguin.

Photograph by S.M. Manton, reproduced by permission of Frederick Warne and Co.

Lewis (1981) and references there, Mesibov (1986) 

Tasmania mapGeophilus flavus



There are at least two species of Steneurytion (formerly Zelanion) in Tasmania, but they have not yet been carefully studied. Steneurytion are found under moss, bark and stones across most of Tasmania. However, they do not seem to be as common in dry areas as Tasmanophilus species. Female Steneurytion brood their eggs in spring. Live animals are red-brown in body colour, while specimens preserved in alcohol are yellow with a red-brown head. I have seen Steneurytion nearly 40 mm long when fully extended, but most individuals collected by hand will be closer to 20 mm.

Bonato et al. (2007), Chamberlin (1920), Edgecombe and Giribet (2003b), Mesibov (1986), Todd and Horwitz (1990) 

Tasmania mapSteneurytion



This is a taxonomically difficult group of centipedes on which geophilomorph specialist Dick Jones (King's Lynn, UK) worked for some years. There may be five Tasmanian species. The one illustrated above seems to be the most widespread and common. It grows to nearly 60 mm long (when fully extended). Tasmanophilus are soil-burrowing and deep-litter centipedes which are less often seen under bark and in leaf litter. They are common in the Midlands and other dry areas where Steneurytion are rare. Female Tasmanophilus brood their eggs in spring and their young in early autumn.

Edgecombe and Giribet (2003b), Fahlander (1939), Mesibov (1986, 1997c) 

Tasmania mapTasmanophilus

Tuoba laticeps (Pocock, 1891) and undescribed Tuoba species


Tuoba laticeps is strictly coastal, has 43-59 leg-pairs and grows to ca 30 mm long. Note that the head is smaller in proportion to the body than in Tasmanophilus or Steneurytion. Tuoba can be found under stones and in seaweed wrack at or just below the high tide mark, and are sometimes seen walking on sandy beaches. The only described Tasmanian species is T. laticeps, but an unidentified Tuoba with 73 pairs of legs was found in 2008 on Prime Seal Island, near Flinders Island in Bass Strait. T. laticeps also occurs on Prime Seal.

Jones (1998), Richardson et al. (1997, 1998)

Tasmania mapTuoba