Centipedes are a species of arthropod. Most centipedes are carnivorous, actively hunting down insects and other small animals to eat. Their defining characteristic is a body made up of many similar segments with 1 pair of legs per segment. The name “centipede” literally means “100 legs”. The actual number of legs a centipede has varies, and is between 30 and 354 legs. Centipedes always have an odd number of segments and leg pairs, so they never actually have 100 legs.

Unique Features

Centipedes are one of the earliest land animals, with a fossil record stretching back over 400 million years. The centipedes of today are little-changed from their prehistoric ancestors.

In addition to their many legs, centipedes have a number of unique characteristics not seen in many other modern arthropods:

  • The first pair of legs on a centipede is modified to act similar to fangs. These legs are thickened compared to the rest of the legs, with sharp claws at the end. On many centipedes, each one has a venom gland at the base that is used to deliver venom to prey and either kill or paralyze it.
  • The last pair of legs is also specially-modified like the first pair. In this case, they are modified to act similar to antenna, giving the centipede a way to collect sensory information behind it.
  • Centipedes do not have a waxy coating on their exoskeleton like most modern bugs, so they are prone to dehydration. For this reason, most centipedes are nocturnal and many also prefer moist environments.

Life Cycle

Centipedes do not go through a metamorphosis like many other bugs. Instead, they go through a series of moults. With each moult, certain species develop more body segments and functionality until they are fully mature. Other species develop all of their legs as embryos and simply grow larger through their moults.

  • Eggs: Centipede females lay a relatively small number of eggs, generally between 15-50. In some species females leave the eggs to develop on their own, while in others they actively protect them from other predators and certain fungi, which can kill them before they hatch. Eggs take a relatively long time to hatch: anywhere between 1 and a few months, depending on climate. In certain species, the newly hatched young eat their mother.
  • Immature: After a centipede hatches, it will go through a series of moults on its way to adulthood. This period varies from around 1 year to as many as 3 years, which is a relatively long time compared to insects, arachnids and other arthropods.
  • Adults: Once a centipede reaches adulthood, it may live for another handful of years or more. Many centipedes live for 5-6 years, and certain species can live longer than 10 years. Reproduction simply involves the male producing a spermatophore and the female picking it up. In some species the male just leaves it for a female to find, while in others a courtship “dance” is involved where the male attempts to convince the female to take his spermatophore.

What proof. Professionals Do To Get Rid Of Centipedes

When centipedes are in a home, it is often either because they have a food source there (i.e. insects, arachnids, other arthropods) or there is one or more moisture sources. We can get rid of centipedes quickly and easily with our Residential Insects & Spiders Service. This service includes seasonal treatments for full, year round protection from centipedes, as well as 30+ other pests. That’s why we call it our Pest Free Guarantee. Call today to learn more and get a free quote right over the phone!

 

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