Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Insects and Spiders » Centipedes: Chilopoda - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Centipedes And People, Conservation Status, Scolopender (scolopendra Morsitans): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET

Centipedes: Chilopoda - Behavior And Reproduction

species legs eggs pairs

Most centipedes are active at night. During the day they seek shelter under objects on the ground, inside logs and stumps, or in animal burrows. During the hot dry weather they will usually bury themselves deep in the soil. They are not territorial and move about the environment in search of food and mates.

Centipedes live alone until they are ready to mate or when they are raising their young. When they do meet, they are often very aggressive toward one another and will sometimes eat the other. Some species living along the seashore hunt in packs. Several individuals will feed together on the same animal, usually a barnacle or beach hopper.

When threatened, centipedes protect themselves by running away or biting. Others whip their bodies about or spread their hind legs wide in a threatening manner. Some species fool predators by having markings that make them look as if they have two heads. Others release bad smelling and tasting chemicals from glands on their undersides. In one group of centipedes, these chemicals actually glow in the dark. A few centipedes produce glue that hardens within seconds when exposed to air. This sticky stuff can tangle up the legs of even the largest insect predators.

Most species must mate to reproduce. The male usually places a sperm packet in a web on the ground. He then coaxes the female to the web by tapping her back legs with his antennae. This courtship may last for hours. Eventually the rear of her body comes into contact with the web and she takes the packet into her reproductive organs. A few kinds of centipedes are capable of parthenogenesis (PAR-thuh-no-JEH-nuh-sihs), where the young develop from unfertilized eggs. Only females are produced by this method of reproduction.

Some species of centipedes lay their eggs one at a time. In other species the female digs out chambers in rotten wood or soil and lays up to eighty or more eggs all at once. She wraps her body around her eggs and cleans them constantly so funguses, molds, or hungry predators do not harm them. Of these species some will eventually camouflage the eggs with bits of soil and abandon them. Others will remain with their eggs, even until after they hatch. They are unable to hunt and remain with their mother until after their next molt, or shedding of their hard outer coverings or exoskeletons.

Young centipedes resemble small adults. However, depending on the species, they may not hatch with their full number of legs. Additional pairs of legs and body segments are added as they molt. For example, hatchlings of house centipedes have only four pairs of legs, while the adults have fifteen. Stone centipedes hatch with six to eight pairs of legs, while the adults have fifteen. In other groups of species, such as the earth-loving centipedes and scolopenders, hatchlings come into the world with all the legs they will ever have. All centipedes molt several times before reaching maturity in a matter of months or years.


The exoskeletons of insects are coated with a waxy layer that keeps them from drying out, but centipedes don't have this waxy layer. Without their bodies to help them, desert-dwelling centipede species depend instead on their behavior to prevent water loss. They come out only at night when the air is cooler and wetter, and they spend their days hiding in the cool and moist shelters of animal burrows or beneath rocks.

Centipedes: Chilopoda - Centipedes And People [next] [back] Centipedes: Chilopoda - Physical Characteristics

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

o my goshh they crawled on ur face and neck?! they get pretty vicious because i seen one just last nite an it flew very fast under my vaccum cleaner and when i went to go kill it it took off! i was so scared and madd peepsss!

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago


Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

we all in our family used to sleep on mats spread on the house floor. we noticed 5 days including today around 5 am 2 - 3 inches long centipedes go over neck face and then suddnely wake up. what is this behavior of centipedes. We think they ambush for mosqitos. Have you reported this sort of thing before this.

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

they are very grooss an ddegerous

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

this is weird

Vote down Vote up

about 5 years ago

hahahahhahah bearded man

Vote down Vote up

over 8 years ago

what are centipedes for really

Vote down Vote up

10 months ago

This is not a very good website

Vote down Vote up

12 months ago

Quickbooks Support Number @ http://www.quickbooks.intuit-techsupport.com/
Quickbooks Support Phone Number @ http://www.quickbooks.support-phonenumber.com/
Quicken Support Phone Number @ http://www.quicken.support-phonenumber.com/
Quicken Support Number @ http://www.quicken.intuit-techsupport.com/
Sage Support Phone Number @ http://www.sage.support-phonenumber.com/

Vote down Vote up

about 1 year ago

centipedes are gross but the can either bite or run if attacked. In my old house we were cleaning my toy box and my dad found a small centipede and my mom jumped of fear and I started shooting it with bb bullets and it died