The Fastest Thing on Thirty Legs: The Centipede
There are more than 950,000 different insect species on this planet. Some kinds of insects are seen as annoying and even harmful but every insect plays a role in the ecology of the earth. Some are carnivores, others are not. Some are dangerous and others aren’t. One of the most interesting insects is the centipede.
What is a Centipede?
One of the most interesting things about the centipede is that they have lived on the planet for over four hundred million years. Many other species have evolved and then disappeared. Other species have changed into forms that are nothing like their primitive ancestors. The centipede has remained the same through time.
Scientists estimate that there are about eight thousand types of centipede in the insect world. The centipede can be found on all of the continents. It can even survive the extremely cold conditions found inside the Arctic Circle. However, because the centipede needs a damp environment to thrive in, they are not usually found in desert areas.
Facts About Centipedes
Centipedes grow to between one and eleven inches long usually. The largest centipede species is located in the Amazon, and was measured at over a foot long. Contrary to popular belief, a centipede does not have one hundred legs. A centipede can have between fifteen and thirty pairs of legs. Each pair is a different length, and they get longer as they go to the back of the centipede. The front pair of legs is right behind the head. This pair of legs is what the centipede uses to catch and kill its prey.
The centipede is a carnivore, one of the most prolific in the insect world. The foremost pair of legs are tipped with venom sacs that paralyze prey for the centipede. The antenna found on the head helps the centipede track down its food. They usually eat other insects, like spiders and earthworms. But the larger varieties of centipede have also been known to eat small reptiles and mammals.
The centipede is one of the few species in which the female and the male do not physically interact to reproduce. The male of the species deposits the sperm cells in places where the females can find them. These places can vary by the species. One species uses a web to deposit these cells for the female. In areas where the weather changes with the seasons, centipedes usually breed during the warmer months. In tropical areas, that can be almost anytime. That is why there are more species of centipede found in tropical areas.
The female centipede will usually lay around sixty eggs per litter. They prefer to lay their eggs in protected areas, like under rocks. If the female cannot find a good place she will bury the eggs in whatever is handy. Some of the species will leave the eggs after laying them. However, there are also some species where the female guards the eggs and even the young when they are first born.
The average life span of a centipede can be between two and six years. They prefer to spend most of this time in darkened areas where they also have access to moisture. The centipede is the only insect that needs to live in a damp environment to survive. This is because it does not have the carapace type skin commonly found on other insect species.
The centipede is not considered dangerous to humans. The bite can be painful, and will swell. It is rarely fatal. There have been some cases where people who were allergic to bee stings were seriously affected by a centipede bite. Smaller animals and infants can also be at risk. This has only happened in a very few cases. The best way to avoid being bitten by a centipede is to avoid places they might live.
Centipedes in the Home
It is very important to make sure they never take up permanent residence inside your house, because they can be hard to get rid of once they get settled in. If you do find a centipede infestation inside your house, best to call an exterminator. Another way to avoid this problem is too make sure that the area around your home is not a place where they would like living. Overly damp and dirty conditions will most certainly bring them in doors and it is simple enough to clean problem areas up.
Human beings are generally predisposed to see insects as a problem and a nuisance. However, some insects play a vital role in helping keep the ecological systems of this world in balance. Centipedes are one of these insects. They help keep things in balance by keeping the population of other insects’ species down. They in turn are also prey for a number of small reptiles and mammals. Although it might seem hard to believe, the world would be very different if there were no centipedes in it.
People commonly confuse the centipede with its distant cousin, the millipede. Both of these species are similar in size, but they are distinctly different in many other ways. Millipedes have two pairs of legs per body segment, and centipedes only have one. Centipedes are carnivores that consume live prey. Millipedes live on the droppings and dust of their environment. They eat whatever they can scavenge.
The centipede is much faster than the millipede, and is also considered the more aggressive of the two species. Although the millipede does not bite, it can secrete a venom from its skin that can also be considered harmful to people allergic to stings and venom. The millipede can become a problem to farmers with certain types of crops. The centipede only eats meat.
Controlling Centipedes in Monmouth & Ocean Counties
If you are seeing centipedes or other types of pests around your home, Alliance Pest Services is your local pest exterminator for all your bug, pest and insect problems.