Description of Centipedes
Centipedes can be easily distinguished from their cousins, the millipedes, by counting the numbers of pairs of legs arising from the body segments. Of course, no one will do the leg counting of centipedes, but they do have features that differentiate them from millipedes. Centipedes are generally flattened and have a pair of well developed antennae on the head. Some centipedes, such as the house centipede have long legs, as seen in the picture below, and are capable of running rapidly.
Centipedes resort to simple metamorphosis. Centipedes and millipedes spend the winter as adults in protected habitats and become active in the spring. In summertime, female centipedes lay eggs in soil and cover them with a sticky substance. Nevertheless, there are certain species that give birth to living young. Centipedes are known to live up to 6 years.
Habitat, Food, Damage
This type of insects like to live in moist habitats, and underneath rocks, locks and other objects in contact with the ground. They sleep during the day and are very active during the night. The centipede feeds on insects and spiders. They kill by grasping the prey with their fangs and injecting it with venom. Occasionally, they feed on seeding plants, especially leaves, stems and roots. Some centipedes are also carnivorous. These impressive arthropods are found in the Amazon jungle, on the island of Trinidad and Jamaica. One of the biggest species of centipede is so powerful that is can kill and devour a bat, as shown in the picture below.
Pests Around the House
Often, they can be found in houses. Moisture in a building’s foundation can be a problem and lead to an infestation, as can water accumulated from the roof. People should keep leaves, wood, compost and other organic material away from the sides of the home or building. If they are provoked, they bite. Usually, the bite is not medically threatening except to small children and individuals allergic to venoms. The larger species have more painful bites.
Normal centipedes do not cause problems, and people need not fear them. They may seem scary, but in a way there are very useful, since they can kill other harmful insects that destroy gardens or plants.