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Dichelobius relictus (Chamberlin, 1920) and undescribed Anopsobiinae
These tiny centipedes (rarely more than 10 mm long) can be very abundant in moss and leaf litter in wet forest at low elevations, but seem to avoid the high country and dry habitats. When disturbed they sometimes curl up in a tight spiral and 'play dead'. The taxonomy of Tasmanian anopsobiines is uncertain, and they should all be referred to as 'anopsobiine sp.' or 'Anopsobiinae sp.' for the time being. We don't yet know which of the Tasmanian anopsobiines was first described as Tasmanobius relictus, as the type specimen is in poor condition. The lithobiomorph specialist Greg Edgecombe (Natural History Museum, London) has put T. relictus in the genus Dichelobius, which also has species on the Australian mainland.
Henicops maculatus Newport, 1845
First described more than 160 years ago from a Tasmanian specimen, Henicops maculatus is a very variable species. Adults are 15-25 mm long and their colour ranges from very pale brown to deep red brown. All forms have numerous tiny dark spots, hence the name maculatus, 'spotted'. The 3+3 coxosternal tooth formula and the much-divided rear tarsi distinguish this species from similar-looking Paralamyctes species (see centipede key).
H. maculatus is Tasmania's most widespread and possibly most abundant centipede. It has been collected from sea level to more than 1500 m, in every habitat from coastal dune scrubs to dense rainforest to bare mountaintops, and it sometimes invades gardens. Very fast-running, H. maculatus is usually found under bark, stones and woody litter. It is always the most common centipede in pitfall traps. H. maculatus also occurs on the Australian mainland and in New Zealand.
Edgecombe et al. (2002), Edgecombe and Giribet (2003a, 2003b, 2003c), Edgecombe and Hollington (2005), Giribet and Edgecombe (2006), Hollington and Edgecombe (2004), International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1982), Mesibov (1986), Murienne et al. (2010), Newport (1845), Pocock (1901), Todd and Horwitz (1990)
Paralamyctes (Edgecombegdus) mesibovi Edgecombe, 2001
This endemic red-brown species looks very much like Henicops maculatus and grows to ca 15 mm in length. It is easily distinguished from H. maculatus and P. subicolus by its 4+4 coxosternal tooth formula and the way the tarsi are subdivided (see centipede key). Paralamyctes mesibovi is very hard to find and all known specimens are from Nothofagus forest.
Paralamyctes (Haasiella) subicolus Edgecombe, 2004
Paralamyctes subicolus grows to ca 15 mm in length and is usually light brown with orange antennae and legs, although all-brown specimens have been collected. It is easily distinguished from the similar-looking H. maculatus and P. mesibovi by the much large number of coxosternal teeth and the way the tarsi are subdivided (see centipede key). P. subicolus is a Tasmanian endemic and is found in a wide range of wet forest types. It lives deeper in forest litter than H. maculatus and is very fast-running.
Lamyctes emarginatus (Newport, 1844)
Lamyctes emarginatus is a tiny (usually 8-9 mm long), relatively slow-moving centipede found under stones and in surface litter. It is red-brown with yellow colouring on antennae and leg tips. First recorded in Tasmania in the mid-1970s, L. emarginatus seems to prefer open conditions and is generally collected in gardens, on farms, along roadsides and in quarries. It is also known from coastal scrubs.
L. emarginatus was first described from New Zealand and is believed to be an Australasian native. It has been introduced into Europe, North America and Greenland. In these places it is known as L. fulvicornis Meinert, 1868 and is parthenogenetic, whereas Australia has bisexual populations. Because its Tasmanian distribution is so fragmented, and because it clearly prefers Europeanised habitats, I suspect that this species is not a Tasmanian native.
Lamyctes hellyeri Edgecombe and Giribet, 2003
Lamyctes hellyeri grows to about 8 mm long and is uniformly yellow or orange. No males have been collected. I discovered this species in my backyard in Penguin on 7 August 2001 and sent live and preserved specimens to Greg Edgecombe (then at the Australian Museum in Sydney) the same day. Greg and I doubt that L. hellyeri is a Tasmanian native. I found hundreds of individuals in my garden, which has grown exotic plants for many decades. We don't know of any earlier collections of L. hellyeri, and all the similar-looking henicopids I have seen in bushland close to Penguin (and elsewhere in the Northwest) have been anopsobiines. If L. hellyeri is indeed introduced to Tasmania, its place of origin is unknown. For the time being, the type and only known locality for this species is my street in the little town of Penguin.
Lithobius microps Meinert, 1868
Lithobius microps rarely grows longer than 10 mm and is brown with yellowish legs. It is a European species, first recorded in Tasmania in the 1970s and now common on farms and in gardens. The central western record on the map is from a much-disturbed site near Lake St Clair. L. microps has not yet been found in undisturbed bush.
Lithobius peregrinus Latzel, 1880
This introduced species is dark brown in colour and grows to ca 25 mm long. It lives in and around buildings in Hobart and Launceston, is abundant near the Devonport wharves and has been transported within the State in firewood deliveries (Todd and Horwitz 1990). In 2008 it arrived in my garden in Penguin, travelling in bags of mushroom compost from Spreyton. The one non-urban record, from State forest near Lake Leake, may represent an escape from a shack site. Lithobius peregrinus is believed to be native to southern Europe and was first collected in Tasmania in 1938. It is now widely distributed around the world (peregrinus means 'travelling about') and is common in New Zealand gardens.