What Do Centipedes Eat?

What Do Centipedes Eat?

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Last Updated on October 7, 2023 by Shu

Have you wondered “What do centipedes eat“? There are about 8,000 different species 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 a 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.

Have You Ever Seen A Centipede Or Millipede?

what do thousand leggers eat

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 (more than two pairs of legs). 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 better hunters. 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 backward as it can forward.

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.

Centipedes are Known Insects Preditors

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

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

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

Who Eats Centipedes

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, toads, 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.

Centipedes Live in Tropical Rainforests to Deserts

Found under stones and dead wood in the yard, centipedes like anywhere that is damp, moist, and dark places. 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 of 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, basements, or even in the closets, but it is unlikely you will see them during the day as they are nocturnal.

A house centipede bite, while its venom isn’t dangerous 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 household pests 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 homeowners are turned away by their off-putting shape and habit of crawling under their 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 issue 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 have no eyes at all), they have evolved to have long antennae that 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 the 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.

Centipede’s Reproduction 

Centipedes have a unique and fascinating method of reproduction. Unlike many other organisms, centipedes reproduce sexually.

The male centipede has specially modified legs called gonopods, which allow him to transfer his sperm to the female during mating. The female centipede has a reproductive system consisting of two ovaries.

After mating, she lays eggs in soil or other suitable places. The number of eggs laid by a female centipede can vary greatly, ranging from just a few to over a hundred.

The eggs are usually small and white. Once the eggs are laid, the female often guards them until they hatch. Centipede eggs usually take a few weeks to months to hatch, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Once the eggs hatch, the young centipedes resemble miniature versions of the adults. They go through multiple molting stages as they grow and develop into adults.

Overall, centipede reproduction is characterized by sexual reproduction, egg laying, and the hatching of small, offspring with a similar appearance to the adults. 

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