What Do Centipedes Eat?

What Do Centipedes Eat?

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There are about 8,000 different breeds of centipedes in the world, 3,000 of which have been described.

They are infamous in the insect world for their large number of legs and appearance that looks straight out of sci-fi film. 

Despite the misleading name they don’t usually have 100 legs, they have about 15 pairs which is still impressive. Some breeds have reached about 300 legs but they definitely aren’t the majority.

Interestingly, centipedes always have an odd number of pairs of legs, so they can never have exactly 100 legs.

They can get as big as 12 inches long and are nocturnal by nature. These arthropods are beloved by most gardeners since they eat the typical insects that destroy plants.

You heard that right, centipedes are carnivorous.

Below you will find out not only what centipedes eat but also how, and where you can typically find them.

Centipede Or Millipede

Centipede Or Millipede

Centipedes are commonly mistaken for millipedes but there are some clear differences to look out for.

For starters, centipedes only have 1 pair of legs per body segment whereas millipedes have multiple. This means that millipedes usually have around 100 legs compared to the centipedes’ 30 or so.

Another way to differentiate them is with the shape of their body. Centipedes are flatter when compared to the cylindrical shape of a millipede.

Centipedes are also the better hunter. With their long antennae and legs they’re able to easily find and catch up to prey.

Their legs have developed so that each pair is slightly longer than the last, in some cases the final pair of legs can be twice as long as the first.

This helps the centipede not trip over itself when running. The common centipede is also able to run just as fast backwards as it can forwards.

Millipedes are more likely to be found munching on a decaying plant than other insects. This is also the reason it is likely a person may want a millipede as a pet over a centipede.

What Is Food For A Centipede?

Centipedes are carnivores which means any insect it can feasibly eat it will. While far from a complete list here are some of the creatures centipedes have been found having for lunch.

  • Slugs
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Worms
  • Cockroaches
  • Silverfish
  • Fellow centipedes

As a species, centipedes aren’t particularly social and are sometimes quite territorial, so it will eat their fellow centipede if it is found injured or seen as easy prey.

Centipede Predators

While the centipede is predominantly a predator it is still at risk for being eaten by a larger animal.

These include birds, grasshopper mice, snakes, lizards, and spiders (who tend to go for the younger or smaller centipedes).

There have also been cases of humans eating them. The larger breeds can be found skewered and grilled in Chinese markets, and sometimes kept in liquor bottles for supposed medicinal benefits.

Where Can You Find Centipedes?

Found under stones and dead wood in the yard, centipedes like anywhere that is dark and damp. Their main goal in life is to eat so they will naturally gravitate to wherever there could be food.

If you have a compost bin you will more than likely find a centipede in there having a snack on a couple worms.

Of course, like any creature, if you have any cracks in your home you may find some crawlies indoors. For centipedes though this seems to be the role of one specific breed.

The House Centipede

The House Centipede

Characterized by their small size (about 1.25 inches) and gray/brown color, these harmless centipedes are the most common to be found in your home.

Like their outside counterparts, these centipedes will live in any damp and dark space. They like to frequent bathrooms and basements but it is unlikely you will see them in the day as they are nocturnal.

A house centipede bite, while venomous, isn’t harmful to humans. Most people describe it as being similar to a bee sting.

However, if someone is prone to being allergic to bug bites it may cause swelling and itching, or in the most extreme cases, medical attention.

What Does A House Centipede Eat?

A house centipede is what can be considered a ‘natural’ pest control. Like other centipedes they eat some of the unwelcome house guests such as spiders and flies.

Centipedes have also been found to eat termites and other insects that may damage part of the house.

While this may seem like a benefit to keep a few centipedes around, most people are turned away by their off-putting shape and habit of crawling under feet and climbing up walls.

While house centipedes are great at pest control, like all other centipedes, they are attracted to where there is food.

That means that if you find a few centipedes in your house you may have a larger pest problem on your hands and need to call an exterminator.

How Does A Centipede Eat?

Despite their small size, centipedes have a few features that make them great hunters.

While they may have poor eyesight (some having no eyes at all), they have evolved to have long antennae which help them locate prey via vibrations.

This is where their long legs come into play, house centipedes can travel about 1 foot per second making it easy for them to catch even the quickest fly.

When caught they wrap their prey in their legs, almost like a lasso.

The next step is to subdue their prey. Here the centipede can take advantage of their venomous nature and paralyze their food with their forcipules.

The forcipules are unique to centipedes; they are a modification of the first part of legs directly behind the centipede’s head creating pincer-like appendages. 

Finally they can move their prey down to the mandibles (teeth) and enjoy their meal. Quite the effective method.

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