How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Scientific name: Scutigerella immaculata
(Reviewed 12/13, updated 12/13)
In this Guideline:
Description of the Pests
Garden symphylans, also called garden centipedes, are slender, white arthropods, closely related to insects, about 0.33 inch (8 mm long), with 10 to 12 prolegs and distinct antennae. These fast-moving arthropods live in soil and move up and down in the soil profile in relation to the moisture gradient. After an irrigation they are near the soil surface. As the soil dries, they move deeper. They hide when exposed to light. They occur mainly in soil with high organic matter and especially in organic farms that fertilize with manures.
Garden symphylans may damage seedlings before or after emergence and may slow the growth of larger plants. Damage usually is concentrated in relatively small areas and recurs every season; infestations spread slowly. In recent years symphylans have become serious pests of young, transplanted processing tomatoes in areas of the San Joaquin Valley and lower Sacramento Valley.
This pest usually occurs in relatively small areas and in soils with a high organic matter. Reduce organic matter input and monitor known trouble spots to determine the need for spot treatments.
Organically Acceptable Methods
Cultural control is an organically acceptable management tool. Limited research has shown no significant control by organic soil amendments or essential oils.
Monitoring and Treatment Decisions
Research from other areas of the country indicates that symphylans can be detected with bait trapping. Either carrots or potatoes can be used as bait. Cut the bait in half longitudinally and scratch the cut surface just before placing it on the soil to ensure that the surface is moist. Place the bait at a depth where the soil is moist, and cover it with a plastic cup to exclude light and prevent the soil from drying. Use at least a dozen bait traps in the field. After 2 to 5 days, examine the cut surface and the soil upon which it was resting for evidence of symphylans. If they are detected, consider applying a pesticide.
Infested soil can be treated with an insecticide, but its effect is limited because of the symphylan's ability to migrate deep into the soil. Insecticides may help in giving the plants a chance to establish their roots in a protected zone. Treat for symphylans just before planting. Spot treatments may be adequate.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Tomato
Insects and Mites
E. T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County