Longtime readers will remember my morbid affection for Scutigera coleoptrata—aka, the house centipede—a species of oddly adorable, 30-legged, mostly harmless arthropods that frequently set up housekeeping in bathrooms and basements*. Originally native to the Mediterranean, they now live ... everywhere. (And please, feel free to imagine these buggers speaking in comic, stereotypical Italiano-Greek accents from now on. God knows I will.)
Now, YouTube musician Pink Torpedo has created a song dedicated to promoting peace and understanding between humans and Scutigera coleoptratas. I dig it!
*Side note: Scutigera coleoptrata do not always live in your house. But, when they do, they prefer to live in damp places. Thus, their affinity for bathrooms. Why? Because they don't actually breathe through their mouths. Like many arthropods, Scutigera coleoptrata get their air intake via little valves all along their exoskeleton. These valves are called spiracles. In most species that have them, spiracles can be opened and closed.
Scutigera coleoptrata are not so lucky. Their spiracles are stuck in the open position, which is sort of like only being able to pant, rather than breathe normally. One of the reasons dogs pant is to increase evaporative cooling of the body—walking around with your mouth open exposes the liquid in your body to relatively drier air, the liquid evaporates, and you get a nice cooling effect. But if your mouth is stuck open, you're at risk of dehydration and, sometimes, you're cooler than you really want to be. Scutigera coleoptrata live in damp places because they really need easy access to water. As a bonus, basements and bathrooms maintain a pretty constant temperature year-round, something else that's rather nice if you can't control your own body temperature very well.
Big thanks to Will Bower!
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.