Common Cryptops - Cryptops hortensis


Cryptops hortensus is the commonest of the three UK Cryptop species. The genus can be recognised by having 21 pairs of legs with the rear pair being significantly larger and pointing backwards.

C. hortensis is 20 to 30 mm long and little more than 1 mm broad, it is a pale brown animal with 21 pairs of legs. It has no eyes, although it is very active animal. The antennae are no more than about a quarter the length of the body.

Similar Species

There are two other similar Cryptops species which can only be confidently identified using a key and a microscope or good lens.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance
  • 21 pairs of legs
  • sutures on the head absent apart from possible short ones behind the antennae
  • single seta amongst the pores on the last coxa
  • the prefemur of the last leg has a ventral groove
Recording advice

Unless identified by a recognised expert, a photo is required and the specimen should be examined with a microscope. In the comments box, state the key or ID method used and describe the size and identifying characters.


This small centipede is found regularly in gardens and woodland where it hides under stones and logs.

When to see it

All year round.

Life History

The female looks after her eggs and young for a while.

UK Status

Fairly frequent but not common, with most records coming from southern Britain.

VC55 Status

Fairly common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map