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Scientific Classification
  • Geophilomorpha
  • Lithobiomorpha
  • Scolopendromorpha
  • Scutigeromorpha

The centipede is from the phylum Arthropoda, and the class Chilopoda. Their name is derived from the latin word, centum, meaning "hundred," and ped which means "foot,".

These creatures can be found all over the world, mostly in dark and damp places. Their bodies are long and slender, with about fifty legs that aid in motility. They are fast moving predators with a poisonous sting used in both defense and predatory circumstances. They will eat all kinds of insects including flies and cockroaches, and some larger species will even eat mice and other rodents.


Amazonian giant centipede
(Scolopendra gigantea )

They have jointed legs connected to a long thin body usually about 1.5 inches long. They possess the ability to move extremely quickly. A pair of antennae and jaw like mandibles are attached to the head of the centipede. These antenna can be used to help feel its way around the ground. They have a pair of venomous claws located at the most anterior segment, that are used for defense, and for capturing and paralyzing their prey. Though some are known to be highly venomous, they can not kill a human unless that person is allergic. Normal stings result in a stinging sensation (like a bee sting), and some swelling. The title "centipede" comes from the Latin word centum, which means "hundred," and ped, which means "foot." Their name suggests that they have a hundred legs, but usually they have about fifty. Although, some centipedes have been found that have over 200 legs.[1]


Female centipede with eggs.

It is possible for a centipede to live up to six years. It prefers dampness and will often complete its life cycle indoors. These creatures will breed and mate within dark crevices of a house or outside such as in a compost pile. Some species give birth to live young, but most lay eggs. The adults will protect their eggs after laying them within the soil. The eggs hatch into the larval stage which has four pairs of legs. There are many different larval stages (usually a total of five). Each stage will produce a new molt and an increased number of legs. Four adolescent stages, each with fifteen pairs of legs, will follow these larval stages. [2]


A rain forest centipede

Centipedes can be found all over the world. They exist within houses (such as the house centipede), or in the outdoors. They like to inhabit damp dark places such as beneath tree bark. Their usual diet consists of small insects, insect larvae, and spiders. They keep homes free from these bugs and are thus helpful. However, most people tend to find them to be a nuisance and will exterminate them.[3] The Amazonian centipede (Scolopendra gigantea) can get up to a foot long, making it the biggest centipede in the world. It has been seen leaping into the air and catching bats in midflight. It will also eat spiders and small rodents. "The prehistoric Euphoberia was the largest known centipede, growing up to one meter in length." It has been reported that the Galapagos Island giant centipede can reach a length of 25 inches. However, in captivity, this species rarely exceeds eight inches.[4]