Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – 1,000 Legged Bug

1000 legged bug song

I found this 1,000 legged bug crawling along in my kitchen the other morning. I suppose it’s really called a millipede or centipede, but I’ve always heard it called a 1,000 legged bug.

The thicker more round looking bug with many legs is also typically called a 1,000 legged bug in my area of Appalachia even though it looks a whole lot different than the bug in the photo.

Granny has told the story of a 1,000 legged bug getting on her so often I know it by heart. It was when we lived in the little house Pap and Granny rented from the Sherlocks.

In the middle of the night Granny awoke with the feeling of something crawling along her arm. She threw the covers back, jumped up and turned the light on, and there in the bed was a 1,000 legged bug!

Hearing Granny tell her story is funny-but I have to admit I’d rather find a 1,000 legged bug in my kitchen than in my bed.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    November 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    The name of the bug is determined by the number of legs it says, but I have to tell you, when I see one, I rarely stop to count its legs or worry about its real name. I usually use my own 2 legs to hightail it out of wherever they are. LOL
    I’ve read where even the spiky fur on some of them are poisonous and can make humans sick. Nice!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    October 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

    yek tipper… i dont like any of the above critters your readers talked about.. lol but at least the one you saw was in the kitchen and you spied it .. without it being in your bed or on you… ugh..
    hope you are enjoying the fall .. the leaves are changing here… supposed to get a bit cooler.. hopefully.. i dont like the humidity and the heat..
    big hugs and love to you and yours

  • Reply
    October 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

    These little creatures are pretty abundant in our area also, being a pest controlman in my time, I encountered a problem with them getting into houses from time to time, generally homes that are in or close to wooded areas they like moist conditions the most, ex. under houses with crawl spaces, basements, flower beds.. the tail actually has venom, all though I’ve never been stung by one, here is a link for more info

  • Reply
    Karen G.
    October 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    In Florida on vacation one night, I half-woke & immediately became aware of something crawling up the top sheet towards my face about 12-16″ away (kinda like the nasty spider sent to dispatch ‘007). In the twilight it looked just as dangerous. My daughter was sleeping next to me & I didn’t want her to get bitten either so I stood straight up in bed screaming & threw the whole top cover off to trap whatever beastie had invaded our bed? Hubby & older son were doubled up in another bedroom & they both fell out of bed in a sudden fright thinking we were being attacked by a burglar & came running to the rescue. My spider turned out to be one of the fattest palmetto bugs ever hatched in the state of Florida.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Tipper,look up ‘centipede hawaii’ and you’ll see how bad a bite over here can be.God Bless. Jean

  • Reply
    October 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I totally agree – in the kitchen and not in the bed. This story reminds me of the night I was awakened in the middle of the night as I felt something crawl across my face. To say the least-it was a lizard. I didn’t get a very good night’s sleep after that as I couldn’t find it after it lay on the floor stunned for a few seconds and I wasn’t up fast enough to try to capture it. Oh, what a night!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve seen lots of 1,000 leggers in
    my time, but most of them are much
    bigger. If you touch him, he’ll
    curl up into a circle. Never had
    one to get on me though…Ken

  • Reply
    October 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Called it a “thousand leg”. I can sympathize with Granny. I had the same experience & I promise that it is unforgettable.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry
    October 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Those measuring worms were also called inch worms. Haven’t seen one of those around for some time.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

    With two boys at home we are forever exposed to all kinds of crawling or hopping creatures. Our youngest is fascinated by them and is constantly in search of them. I must admit I am somewhat fascinated by them as well but my wife wants nothing to do with a bug of any kind so shrieks from her are pretty common when they bring a new one to show her.
    When my brother and I lived together briefly years ago he got into bed one night and immediately yelled and came running into the living room shucking his drawers and spewing all kinds of profanities. A scorpion had nailed him right on his backside. I have never laughed any harder in my life.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    October 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

    We call them thousand legged worms. The ones like in your pictures can really scoot along even on carpet. I see them in the house once in a while. They are hard to kill. They’ll be gone before you can find a fly swatter so you have to grab whatever is handy. A shoe heel is good but you have to whack ’em several times before they quit moving.
    Do you get slugs in the house? Do you put salt on them?

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Sorry, but I wonder how many folks near my age..72..used to run up on a cenipede or millipede or 1,000 legs. Put it it up on the porch or driveway and use a stick to get it to move. Usually there weren’t any problem with that at all, they are fast little buggers…We would try and watch the legs move and see which ones moved first down the line. Did you know that sometimes they cheat and pick up the middle legs and go on to the back ones, almost like the front and back carry the middle ones…LOL
    The rippling motion is amazing. I doubt many kids get to watch this event in summertime play, like we used to. The stick to keep the “1,000 leg” going in a straight line down the road, has been replaced with WII stick…shame!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I know I miss many but this one just “quacked at me”! That is supposed to be “Ductwork”…not the way I say it “Duckwork”. No a duck didn’t throw up a cenipede! LOL However, when we had our duckies and chickens running free that could eat their fill and would push the flower pots around to scratch for all bugs…

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 4, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I can hear the warning right now from the distant corner of my mind. “Don’t let that “1,000 leg” git on you, if hit crawls in yore ear it will kill you or at lest drive you crazy!” My Grandmother, for some reason was scared to death of a “1,000 leg”, millipede or centipede! She would also holler that they was poison! I have seen thru the years, those great big yellow and black ones and the skinny grey/black ones.
    I still find a centipede on occasion under a flower pot that has been sitting in the yard.
    I don’t think the big yellow and black one, (found mostly under rotten logs, when gathering farwood) could possible crawl in your ear unless it chewed part of it off, it is just too big! ewwww
    I think why we don’t see as many is because a lot of folks spray around their homes, use sterile potting soil, instead of going to the woods and garden for loam, etc. etc.
    We live practically in the woods, and when we first moved here had a scorpian come up thru the duckwork…The house had been closed up, for sale. I did have the better half go around and spray for those little varmits…
    They give me the creeps. The sting hurts, but you never know when you could or your youngster could be allergic. Only place we have seen them in years was under paper mulch in the old garden on a hot summer day!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…For some reason Granny wasn’t afraid of those little gray roly-poly bugs under the flower pots…LOL

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    October 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I have friends in Scotland in a band called The Wherries. They do a fun, catchy song about a centipede. You can hear a bit of it on their website

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    October 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

    We were always told to keep our mouth shut when around a centipede. If they counted your teeth, they would fall out.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 4, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Can’t imagine much worse than waking up to something crawling on me. Those certainly are creepy looking critters!

  • Reply
    Tommy Lee Stokes
    October 4, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Do you get those millipedes or centipedes that stink to high heaven when agitated? I had never seen or even heard of them before we moved out to the Mars Hill area, but after a good rain they seem to come from everywhere. Of course, our cat, Idgie, loves to play with them and it stinks up the whole house!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I remember a crawly creature we called a “measuring worm” when I was young. It was good to get one on you, crawling along, “measuring” you off. So they said, it was a “sign” that you were being measured for a new dress (if a girl) or a new shirt and pants or overalls (if a boy). So we’d let the crawly creatures measure us! But I don’t think the measuring worm was the same as the centipede or the 1000-legged worm!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 4, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I used to see them all the time when I was a kid, not so much any more. We called them thousand legged bugs too, but later centipedes which ironically is only 100 legs

  • Reply
    October 4, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I hadn’t thought about those thousand leggers for years. I don’t think I have even seen one for years.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Never had a thousand legged bug in my bed although one night while being almost asleep, I felt something scurry across my foot. I jumped up like an Olympic athlete. It was a rather large scorpion. That was years ago; couldn’t jump that high now.
    Remember that movie “Appaloosa” with Marlon Brando and that scorpion that got him? That’s the first thing I thought about when I saw that scorpion. I have heard that these scorpions around here have a painful sting but they aren’t deadly like the ones in other countries.

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