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Centipedes, from the arthropod class Chilopoda, are known for their long, flattened bodies with a number of segments. Fast-moving and predatory, these “hundred-legged” creatures are known to have over 2,500 species.
See the fact file below for more information on the Centipede or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Centipede worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- As arthropods, segmented bodies and paired, jointed appendages on most segments are the distinctive characteristics of centipedes. They have hard exoskeletons, composed of protein and chitin.
- They are dorso-ventrally flattened, having only one pair of legs on their 15 to 173 segments. The hind segment, which does not have legs, includes the telson and the openings of the reproductive organs.
- Despite being named “centipede”, which originates from the Latin words centum, meaning “hundred”, and pes, pedis meaning “foot”, these myriapods generally have around half that number of legs.
- The head consists of a pair of joined antennae. Near the front segment, centipedes have a pair of venomous claws called maxillipeds. They use these claws to protect themselves from their predators and to capture and paralyze their prey.
SIZE AND HABITS
- The largest living centipede, Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede or Amazon giant centipede (Scolopendra gigantea), extends to a length of 26 cm, and can even exceed 30 cm (12 in). It can be found in the northern and western regions of South America and the islands of Trinidad and Jamaica, and is notorious for preying on lizards, frogs, birds, mice, and even bats. Their venoms contain acetylcholine, histamine, and serotonin which causes serious swelling, chills, fever, and weakness.
- Euphoberia, an extinct genus which lived 300 million years ago, was the largest known centipede, reaching lengths of 1 m (39 in).
- The garden centipede, commonly found in North America, is smaller in size and rarely exceeds a few inches in length.
- Some researchers believe that the Galapagos Islands giant centipede (Scolopendra galapagoensis) can extend up to 25 inches, although centipedes of this genus do not usually exceed 8 inches in body length.
- Other giant centipedes are nocturnal – they stay hidden under stones and debris by day, and search for prey at night.
- These myriapods are one of the fastest non-flying arthropod predators. Bites of smaller centipedes found in temperate regions may resemble a bee sting, but those of larger species in tropical areas may be agonizingly painful, leaving behind two black puncture wounds.
- Since they dehydrate fast, water regulation is a vital aspect of a centipede’s life. This phenomenon is caused by the lack of waxy covering of their exoskeleton and the excretion of ammonia.
- Small webs spun by male centipedes are filled with spermatophores for females to pick up. Occasionally, a courtship dance is involved, but some males just deposit their spermatophores for females to locate.
- In temperate regions, female centipedes lay their eggs in spring and summer; in subtropical and tropical areas, however, centipede breeding is seasonal.
- Centipedes under the orders Lithobiomorpha and Scutigeromorpha lay their eggs individually in cracks in the soil filled with leaves.
- Youngs usually come out with only seven pairs of legs and gain the rest through succeeding molts. The young American house centipede (Scutigera coleoptera) has only four pairs of legs and gains additional legs in subsequent molts, before it sexually matures. These centipedes take three years to achieve adulthood.
- Eggs, ranging from 15 to 60 in number, of female centipedes from the orders Geophilomorphapha and Scolopendromorpha, are very much taken care of. Females lay and stay with their eggs in a nest in the soil or in rotten wood, licking them to prevent fungi from surfacing.
- Some remain with their young even after they have hatched, protecting them until they are ready to wander. If interrupted, females might leave the eggs or eat them. Abandoned eggs are easily preyed upon by fungi.
- Large animals, such as mongooses, mice, salamanders, beetles, and snakes are some of the predators of centipedes.
- Centipedes are mostly generalist predators – they have already adjusted to feed on a number of available preys. Plant materials are an insignificant part of their diet, although they tend to eat vegetable matter when hungry during laboratory experiments.
- Centipedes are widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions.
- House centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) found in Europe and North America are known to be fast-dwelling carnivores. These myriapods can be seen in almost any part of the house, mostly in basements, bathrooms, and laundry areas. They prey on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and other pests found at home.
- Because they feed on household pests and do not damage food or furniture, household centipedes are one of the most beneficial species found in human dwellings.
ORDERS AND FAMILIES
- Scutigeromorpha. These are anamorphic, meaning they grow additional pairs of legs when they molt and even develop body segments. Known as fast-moving creatures, centipedes in this group reach up to 15 body segments. They are also the only group to keep their original compound eyes, having a crystalline layer similar to that of the insects. They also have long and multi-segmented antennae.
- Lithobiomorpha. Also called stone centipedes, this group are also anamorphic but do not have compound eyes, and sometimes might have no eyes at all. The Henicopidae and Lithobiidae families are in this order.
- Craterostigmomorpha. The least diverse among centipedes and only found in Tasmania and New Zealand, this order consists of two extant species, both under the genus Craterostigmus. They are easily distinguished for having one anamorphosis stage, allowing these centipedes to grow only up to 15 segments.
- Scolopendromorpha. Also called tropical centipedes, these have 21 or 23 body segments, except for the Scolopendropsis duplicata which possess 39 or 43 segments.
- Geophilomorpha. Commonly called soil centipedes, this order is the most diverse, having 1260 species. They have 27 leg-bearing body segments with spiracles (external respiratory opening), 27 or more pairs of legs, and antennae with 14 segments. This group has at least seven families: Mecistocephalidae, Geophilidae, Oryidae, Himantariidae, Schendylidae, Zelanophilidae, and Gonibregmatidae.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Centipede across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Centipede worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Centipedes, from the arthropod class Chilopoda, which are known for their long, flattened bodies with a number of segments. Fast-moving and predatory, these “hundred-legged” creatures are known to have over 2,500 species.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Centipede Facts
- Creepy Crawly
- Centipede Anatomy
- Centipede Check
- Centipede Species
- Centipede vs Millipede
- More About Centipedes
- Other Centifacts
- Centipede Bites
- To-Do List
- Impact on Humans
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Link will appear as Centipede Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 17, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.