5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT CENTIPEDES
By Chris Williams on July 12, 2017.
- Centipedes are not insects, although they are related to insects. One clue is that insects have 6 legs, centipedes have many more. Although they’re often called “hundred-leggers,” the typical adult centipede has about 15 pairs of legs for a total of 30. They have one pair of legs per body segment and actually add segments and legs as they grow.
- Centipedes are predators on insects and other small creatures such as mites, spiders, slugs, and earthworms. Outside, they are found in damp areas under rocks, leaves, or mulch. One species, the house centipede, feeds on our various household insects like cockroaches, silverfish, clothes moths, and fruit flies. In that sense, it could be considered a beneficial predator.
- The house centipede is an atypical centipede with extremely long legs, it uses the hind pair to lasso its prey. It then injects venom through its jaws (but it can’t easily break human skin). For all its bluster, the house centipede is quite delicate, if handled its legs easily break off and continue to twitch!
- Outdoor centipedes might get into homes but they can’t survive long in dry indoor air. However, the house centipede is adapted and can spend its entire life living indoors, even reproducing indoors. It hides during the day in dark locations and hunts for its dinner at night. It runs rapidly and can climb walls. You might find one trapped in the bathtub in the morning!
- You can tell a centipede from a millipede by the legs. A millipede has two pairs of shorter legs per segment or twice the number of a centipede. Millipedes’ bodies are round in cross-section while centipedes are flattened. Centipedes have prominent antennae while millipedes’ antennae are very short. Centipedes move fast to catch prey, millipedes are vegetarians and amble along. Finally, if it rolls up into a protective coil, it’s a millipede. Centipedes can’t do that.
Photo Credit : By Bruce Marlin – Own work http://www.cirrusimage.com/centipedes_millipedes.htm, CC BY 3.0, Link