Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

There are thousands of species of centipedes all around the world.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Sexual Dimorphism

Females often have more segments than males; slight Sexual Dimorphism also in shape of segments and gonopodia
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Physical Description

Centipedes have long, segmented bodies, covered in a tough, flexible exoskeleton. Each segment has one pair of legs, and there is a pair of antennae on their heads. At the head, one pair of legs is modified to work as fangs that bite and deliver venom. Often the last pair of legs are used like antennae too, used for sensing instead of walking. Most centipedes are flat, with short legs, but there are few that have rounded bodies and very long legs.

Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Ecology

Habitat

Most centipedes need to live in moist places, but a few can survive in deserts and dry grasslands.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Centipedes are active hunters. They roam around looking for small animals to bite and eat. They eat Insecta, Araneae, and other small invertebrates. If the centipede is large enough it will even attack small vertebrates like Squamata.

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Associations

Predation

Centipedes mainly avoid predators by hiding under bark, rocks, or in dead leaves, or burrowing in soil. Many species can run fast. They will also bite to protect themselves.

Known Predators:

  • Soricidae
  • Hymenoptera
  • Aves
  • Araneae
  • Carabidae
  • small Squamata 
  • Squamata
  • Anura

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Known predators

Chilopoda (centipede) is prey of:
Falco sparverius
Margarops fuscus
Margarops fuscatus
Anolis gingivinus
Anolis pogus

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Chilopoda (centipede) preys on:
Collembola
Isoptera
Coleoptera
Formicidae
Diptera
Araneae
Acari
Isopoda

Based on studies in:
Tibet (Montane)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • L. W. Swan, The ecology of the high Himalayas, Sci. Am. 205:68-78, from pp. 76-77 (October 1961).
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Centipedes have pretty simple eyes, they probably communicate mostly through touch and smell. They can feel vibrations.

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Life Cycle

Development

Baby centipedes hatch out of their eggs looking like small versions of grown-up centipedes. As they grow they shed their exoskeleton to make room.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Most centipedes probably only live for a year or two at most, but some may live for several years

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
1.0 to 3.0 years.

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Reproduction

In our area centipedes probably mate in spring or early summer. Eggs hatch in the summer.

Breeding season: Probably in the spring and early summer.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

In some species, the mother centipedes guard their eggs and hatchlings. They curl around them in a big ball, and do not feed until the young have grown a bit.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; female parental care

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:1,284Public Records:787
Specimens with Sequences:1,071Public Species:73
Specimens with Barcodes:992Public BINs:363
Species:105         
Species With Barcodes:89         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Chilopoda

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Conservation

Conservation Status

No centipede species are known to be endangered.

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