Centipede

Chilopoda

Centipede

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A close up photograph of a centipede chilopoda
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Centipedes are long, slightly flattened arthropods, possessing numerous pairs of legs. The English translation of centipede from Latin is 'one hundred feet'; although, this technically isn't true because many species possess somewhere between 21-23 pairs of legs. Currently, 3,000 species have been described globally. They're best friends with gardeners and farmers because of their hunting abilities. Centipedes are avid hunters, depending on their size, they'll eat insects, snails and worms as well as small rodents, lizards and frogs!

Traits

Centipedes can provide pest control services in the garden.
Centipedes movement within the soil can help soil-fertility and health.

Appearance

Centipedes appear much flatter in comparison to their close relatives, the millipedes. For most species, there are 15 body segments following the head. Likewise, most species possess a pair of legs per segment (although, there are always exceptions!). Many species display tan colouring, e.g. tones of reds, oranges and browns. Young centipedes may begin their lives a bright white, darkening with age. They usually possess extensive antennae. Many centipedes lack eyes or possess very basic vision because they tend to live in darkness. The antennae provide most of the sensory information concerning the surrounding environment. The last pair of legs on the final segment will always appear longer and thicker. This is because the primary purpose isn't for walking, but for grabbing and restraining prey. They're also sometimes used as a defence mechanism when the tail curls upwards.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

Centipedes can provide a natural form of biocontrol for gardens and farms. They prey upon pest insects and molluscs, often staying concealed beneath litter and the topsoil. Their movement within the media can improve soil aeration and water drainage.

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