What do Centipedes Eat? Types of Centipedes


What do Centipedes Eat? Types of Centipedes


What do Centipedes Eat: Types of Centipedes


You must have seen those fast crawling insects in your homes, gardens or yards or anywhere else especially during the monsoon season. This is the centipede, with lots of legs; they look very dangerous and indeed they are dangerous for humans. Many people often do a comparison of centipede vs millipede. Read the article completely to know some interesting centipede facts.

Centipedes belong to the class Chilipoda and they can be of various kinds. They could be long, flattened and are the segmented predaceous arthropods one of the major characteristics of the centipedes is that, except the hindmost segment, every segment bears a pair of leg centipedes are the insects that prefer to live under the stones, bark or in the ground litter during the day time. During night time, they hunt and capture other small invertebrates. They move very rapidly with so many pairs of legs that they have and have a jointed antenna and a pair of jaw like venomous claws that are just situated behind their heads.

On their rear ends, the last pair of the legs is modified to act as a sensing organ so that they can sense around in their environments. Centipedes are of various kinds and can be easily identified with their colors and the pairs of legs that they have.

Table of Content

What does a centipede look like?


They are reddish-brown to black in color and some species can have bright red, blue or orange-colored bodies as well. Here are some of the other characteristics of the centipede by which you can easily identify them:


  • They have a long and flattened body
  • Their body is having multi-segments, with every segment there is one pair of jointed legs
  • A long antennae pair on the head
  • Claw like structure that is just located beneath their head


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Types of centipedes that exist in nature:

Here are some of the common types of centipedes that are found worldwide. Let us have a look them at all in detail:

House centipedes: These are the centipedes that are generally yellowish-brown in color. These belong to the order scutigermophora. These have originated from the Mediterranean region and are now found in every part of the world. Their body is having a distinctive shape that is generally not found in the other species of the centipedes. Their body length is generally 1 inch long with up to 15 pairs of long and barbed legs. These centipedes are commonly found in the homes and in the dark and the damp areas like the bathrooms, ceilings, walls, sinks and are insectivorous. They are mostly known to feed on the cockroaches, flies, moths, and spiders. This way these can be considered as beneficial for controlling the pests in your homes. Their bite is also not dangerous to human beings and they rarely bite on humans.

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Giant centipedes: This is one of the largest species of the centipedes in the world and is known by the name of Scolopendra heros. They can have 23 pairs of legs and as like the other centipedes they have flat bodies. They have the poisonous claws on their forelegs. Their head is black in color generally with bright yellow bodies and in some species, there can be redheads with black bodies. This indicates that this type of centipede is generally poisonous. They have poor vision powers and are more dependent on their antennas to locate their prey. This type of centipedes is generally found in the rocky and the desert areas in northern Mexico and the United States.

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Stone centipedes: This type of centipedes belong to the order lithobiomorph. They are characterized by flattened bodies. This helps them to manoeuvre in the tiny spaces as well. With 15 pairs of legs, they are approximately 2 inches in size. They have poor vision powers like the desert centipedes and they can only get to know about their prey by the touch only. These are more common in the temperate regions of Australia and the US. More common places where these can be found are the rocks and logs.

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Fire centipedes: This is one of the well-known species of the centipedes that are attractive and have a reddish hard exoskeleton. These are highly poisonous and are capable of spitting bioluminescent chemical substances. Their size is variable and thus, the legs as well. The number of legs is dependent on the size of the centipede. These are more commonly found in the subtropical African regions and the Asian regions.

Bathroom centipedes: These are the centipedes that love to live in moist places like that bathroom and the drain pipes. These can crawl through the water as well and are sometimes known to bite humans as well.

Garden centipede: You can easily find them in your gardens. Under the rocks and in the damp and shady places, these can be found easily. They do not feed on the plants so you do not have to worry about your vegetation.

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Soil centipedes: These types of centipedes are known to be very long and flat. They have at least 27 pairs of legs and their body size is quite inches long. This type of centipedes loves to burrow in the soil just like an earthworm and you can easily find them aboveground underneath the logs and the rocks.

Aquatic centipedes: These are known by the name of the waterfall centipede and this species was found accidentally in Thailand. It was first watched as swimming like an eel as the way it moves its body.

Flying centipedes: Although, the centipedes are not known for flying this species in Africa might be able to fly as per the looks that it has. These species have the projections on its back legs that look much similar to the wings. But they are not the real wings and thus, they cannot fly. They prefer to stay on the ground and spend most of the time living there.

Giant desert centipede: There can be some species of the centipedes that are very small but this is not true with all the species of the centipedes. The most common dessert centipedes are:


  • Tiger centipede
  • Green striped centipede
  • Blue tree centipede
  • Common desert centipede

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Red headed centipede: The red-headed centipede is also one of the types of different species of centipedes. This species of the centipede is predominantly found in the southwestern part of the United States and northern Mexico. Their color ranges from the red-brown to tan to black and comes out when it is dark outside. Their body length on an average is 6 inches in length but they can grow longer even than 8 inches. The head of the centipede looks similar to its tail and this helps it to survive a surprise attack as well. They have the stings on their tails and thus, they can survive if the predator attacks them on their hind part of their body. Also, they are poisonous and the venom is a neurotoxin. This means that humans cannot be killed by the venom but they can be seriously injured or even paralyzed by this centipede. Hence, they should use some protective measures in order to avoid any kind of mishap.

What do centipedes eat?

Centipedes are the carnivore’s insects. This means that they are purely meat-eaters. They rarely scavenge on a meal and are the primary hunters. To kill an insect, they make use of the venom that comes from its glands that are located beneath the centipede’s head. The front pair of legs are known as the forcipules and is directly connected to these poison glands. With the help of the forcipules, they pierce the prey’s skin and inject the venom in the wound. The venom is the neurotoxin and thus paralyzes the insect.

The centipede diet majorly consists of insects, small arthropods, annelids, and small invertebrates as well. The larger species of the centipedes sometimes even feed on small mammals and reptiles.

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Centipede life cycle:

The centipede life cycle does not involve the population. Here is the complete reproductive life cycle of the centipedes:


  • Pheromones are released by the female centipedes to attract the males.
  • The males, weave a small web and deposit their spermatophores there.
  • They may use techniques like the courtship dance in order to bring the attention of the females to those spermatophores.
  • The web is taken in by the females and is used to fertilize the ova within their bodies.
  • At one time, a female centipede can lay 15-60 eggs. These eggs are generally deposited in the holes that are made in some holes and the rotting logs.
  • These eggs are protected with the covering of the sticky substances.


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What do baby centipedes look like?

Baby centipedes are generally similar to the adult centipedes in their looks. They have the flat and oval shape. Their body color is similar to their parents and the size is generally small during the initial stages.

Once the eggs hatch, the larval stage has only 4 segments and 8 legs. A baby centipede undergoes a lot of stages for growth and during every new phase, there is an addition of one segment to their body with a pair of legs associated with it. It melts for more than 4 times to become a complete adult.

Some Interesting Facts about the house centipedes:


  • The house centipedes are generally having 15 pairs of legs and have jointed legs. Their body size ranges from 1 to 1.5 inches and the body colour is generally the greyish-yellow to brown with stripes on their bodies.
  • These centipedes are known to feed on the pests that are generally found in your homes like the ants, spiders, bedbugs and the carpet beetles.
  • They prefer to live in shady and damp places like the kitchen, bathrooms and the basements of your homes.
  • They have gradual metamorphosis and this is the reason why the young and the adult have similar appearances. They come to hunt for the food at night times.
  • They have generally the small jaws and prefer to run away after biting.


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What to do if bitten by the centipede?

Centipedes are known to sting and eat away their prey. But during the dangerous or the frightening conditions, they might bite the humans.

Their bites can be painful and sometimes they can even inject their neurotoxic venoms in your body. This could paralyze your body for some time. They may also release some other toxins that are not good for the human body. If you got bitten by the centipede bites, then you must follow the given below steps to get relief from them:


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  • As soon as the centipede bites you, you should apply the heat on the bitten area. If you immerse the area in the hot water, this will dilute the venom and thus reduces the effect of the poison on the human body.
  • Use the ice packs to reduce the swellings that occur after the bite of the centipede.
  • Use medications like antihistamines, anaesthetics, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Use the antibiotics to reduce the chances of skin infection.
  • Make sure that you keep the bite site safe, clean and covered.
  • Consult a doctor is you feel pain in movement of the area where you got the bite.

Centipedes are the insects that look more dangerous than they are in actual. The best means of controlling the centipedes is to eliminate their food sources.

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Now, since you are aware of the centipedes and the types of centipedes, you can easily recognize how they can harm you. In case if you see a number of centipedes in your home, then this can be a trouble for you. In that case, you have to take help from a pest management company.