Ten Interesting Facts About Centipedes


Centipedes are often feared by many due to their creepy appearance and aggressiveness to anyone. They actually bite injecting their powerful venom that delivers tremendous pain no matter how tough you think you are.

Despite of the fearsome characteristics of the centipedes, scientific discovery had found 10 interesting facts about them and they are the following:

1. Centipede Venom

Centipedes are venomous and predatory creatures which paralyze their prey using their poison found in their venomous fangs located into their "forcipules". Unique to all kinds of centipedes, forcipules are their front leg segments which are surprisingly not made for walking but the most interesting part about it is that, it can be modified into deadly fangs.

When a wild centipede has bitten a certain individual, he or she will suffer an agonizing pain that could last for an hour. The bitten area will be swollen that it may take several days to get healed.

2. Number of Legs

Depending on the species, the number of legs of a centipede ranges from as few as 15 pairs of legs to as much as 171 pairs. Average centipedes actually have 35 pairs of legs that are highly segmented and there are only one pair of walking legs per segment.

Despite of the popular belief and the given name to the centipedes as "hundred legged" creatures, they do not actually have 100 legs. In fact, they always have an odd number of leg pairs.

3. Distinguishing Centipedes

The single pair of legs per segment can be useful in distinguishing centipedes from other similar creatures especially the "millipedes". Many individuals are actually confused between centipedes and millipedes. Thus, the best way to distinguish them apart is by analyzing their leg segments where millipedes have two pairs of legs per segments (while single pair of legs per segments for the centipedes).

4. Centipedes are Predators

Judging from their common habitat, centipedes are often mistaken to have the same diet as the worms. However, all centipedes are predators that catch their food similarly to the method of the snakes. A centipede do it by wrapping their body around their prey until its venom takes effect.

Centipedes commonly hunt insects, mollusks and annelids. While, larger species of centipedes have been found to be able to prey on frogs and small birds. Surprisingly, centipedes are also known to prey on other centipedes when food becomes scarce.

5. Lifespan of Centipedes

Centipedes falls into the insect and arthropod category where they do have various characteristics which vary from the commonality within the group. As for their lifespan, most species of centipedes reaches 2 to 3 years which is relatively a longer period as compared to most arthropods which can live up to weeks on average.

The centipedes' lifecycle is different from most insects because they continue to molt and grow even as adults. But in comparison to other common insects, they stop molting and growing once they reached adulthood.

6. Ability to Regenerate Legs

The most predominate trait which centipedes possess is their ability to regenerate their legs when cut. They can actually sacrifice their legs when attacked by a more fearsome predator.

Due to the reason that centipedes continue to molt even when they reached adulthood, they are able to re-grow their lost legs. However, the regenerated legs are not as strong as the originals. It is also important to note that adult centipedes are not able to re-grow their legs when they finally reached their final stage of development.

7. Centipedes Care for their Offspring

A rare trait of insects is to care for their offspring which is a characteristic trait possessed by the centipedes. Even before their eggs have hatched, the female centipede will wrap her body around the eggs to keep them warm and protected until they hatch.

The location of the eggs is also vital in their protection. Thus, the female centipede (species that dwells on soil and tropical regions) strategically lay their mass eggs underground to keep them away from the predators.

8. Ability to Run at High Speed

As a result of their many or several long legs, centipede are built to run quick at a very surprising speed. But with the exception of the soil centipedes, which are naturally slow-moving specie. Although, the rest of the other species of centipedes can easily and quickly maneuver around obstacles allowing them to avoid predators and catch their prey with ease. The surface of the centipede's body segments also prevents them from swaying enabling balance during fast motion.

9. Centipedes with Few Legs

The majority of centipede species hatch with their full set of legs but there are some species that are born with fewer legs than their parents. Anyway, they grow new legs with each successive cycle of their molting stage.

Stone centipedes and house centipedes are amongst the species that hatch with a few number of legs. They usually have about 14 legs which adds up as they continue to develop leg pairs until they reached their adulthood.

10. Waxy Coat

Most arthropods have a waxy coat on their cuticle to help prevent them from "Water Loss". You have to know that centipedes lack the protection against dry environments and are prone to dehydration. Generally, the absence of the waxy coat is not a threat as most centipedes live in moist environments such as damp wood. But, there are some species of centipedes that prefers to inhabit on dry environments. Surprisingly, they have the capability to make the necessary adjustments or modification of their lifestyle to prevent them from suffering dehydration. They do it by conserving their energy until rain occurs.

Above all the interesting facts that are mentioned above, centipedes are the top predator in the world of the insect. They actually dominate all other insects that are small or larger than them. In short, they are the kings or queens of the insect-world. But, did you know that they play an important role in the ecosystem?

Ladybug on the Ecosystem

Centipedes controls the balance in the ecosystem without them an uncontrollable population of other insects will suddenly emerge.