Centipedes: species, appearance and peculiarities of life


Everyone, no doubt, seeks to create a comfortable environment for their stay. At the same time in the house or apartment should not be uninvited neighbors (flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches and bedbugs). This also concerns centipedes. But sometimes the conditions that are created in our homes, contribute to the appearance of these unpleasant insects.

The probability that the centipede will settle in your home is very high if there is a high level of humidity in the room. Of course, for any person it is an unpleasant neighbor, causing a natural reaction of disgust. However, few people know that the centipede is homely for people absolutely harmless.

On the contrary, this insect brings tangible benefits. It destroys moths and spiders, cockroaches and ants, flies and bedbugs, that is, those household pests with which a person leads a relentless struggle. Therefore, its scientific name is the common flycatcher.

The house centipede in its appearance is a giant caterpillar. She goes on a hunt at night and can cause fright not only in a child, but also in any adult. The length of its brown or yellowish-gray with three bluish or reddish-purple stripes of the body ranges from thirty-five to sixty millimeters. The feet of an insect are not forty, but thirty. And they do not grow at the same time, but in accordance with the stages of development of this unusual creature.

Under natural conditions, the centipedes habitat is fallen leaves or territory under the trees. In the houses - wet rooms. This can be a bathroom, basements or basements. All winter, home centipedes spend in the most secluded places. With the onset of spring, they become active. If indoor conditions change in the direction of lowering humidity, then these insects move to a more comfortable place for them.

Centipede home can bite a person. But this should not cause concern. Insect is not able to bite through the skin. It attacks only for self-defense. Moreover, the poison in the centipede is weak, and the bite does not hurt much. Trouble can only occur with allergies. Sometimes they have difficulty breathing. These people have increased heart rate and swelling of the throat. A person who does not suffer from allergies, when exposed to the poison of the centipede, experiences slight pain. In the area of ​​the bite, he appears redness. In rare cases, lymph nodes swell.

The centipede home does not like dry rooms. That is why, if you decide to get rid of this insect, you should dry raw cellars and storerooms. In the fight with centipedes, you can use sticky traps that are laid out along the baseboards and in the corners. Places where insects enter the house should be blocked. Cracks in the walls and foundation should be covered with cement. Shut off the need and the space around the door and window openings. A mosquito net is placed on the drain in the foundation. For baiting insects fit any means of cockroaches and flies. However, it is desirable to use natural pesticides. This may be edible diatom powder or boric acid.

Centipede description

The body of the centipede consists of two calving sites: the head and the body. The head has a rounded shape, the lower part of it is flat, but the legs are an exception. On the head is a pair of antennae and 2 pairs of jaws. The lower jaws are called maxillae, and the upper mandibles are called mandibles.

The body of a centipede has a cylindrical shape, it is formed by a large number of segments. Each body segment has at least a pair of legs. Centipedes often have 25-100 segments. The breast segments have a pair of legs, and the abdominal segments have 2 pairs of legs.

In centipedes weak eyesight, and in some species, the eyes are generally reduced. The centipedes, which have eyes, can only distinguish between darkness and light, that is, they cannot truly see the surrounding world.

Traditionally, centipedes were considered to be the closest relatives of insects.

Color, as a rule, can be gray, brown and reddish. Underground and cave centipede species may not have enough pigment, while in tropical species, on the contrary, the color can be very bright. The dimensions of the centipedes also fluctuate.

First centipedes

Fossil finds indicate that the centipedes already existed at the end of the Silurian period, that is, these creatures lived on the planet 420 million years ago. But according to molecular studies, they appeared even earlier, perhaps 500 million years ago. Thanks to the Cambrian fossils, you can see the common features of ancient centipedes, outwardly they look like modern species.

The number of legs in different types of superclass varies from 750 to 10 and less.

Centipede habitat

Centipedes can live in different environments, but most often they are found in forests. In addition, they live in meadows, savannas and deserts. They live almost everywhere, but not in the Arctic Circle.

The centipedes prefer a moist environment, since they do not have a wax cuticle, like in arachnids and insects, so moisture is quickly lost through the skin. They can be found under the leaves, in a pile of garbage, under stones and in other places.

Centipede lifestyle

The centipedes are universal predators, that is, they are able to eat a variety of affordable food. They search for prey mainly with the help of their antennas. Small species eat insects, but the giant Amazonian centipede is the largest among its relatives, and it can attack mice, frogs, birds, spiders and lizards.

During the laboratory experiments, hungry centipedes even ate plant food.

Centipedes are predominantly nocturnal. But studies have shown that the species Strigamia chinophila prefers to live a daytime lifestyle. They are protected from predators due to the fact that they can develop a good speed.

Centipedes prefer a raw environment.

Millipede breeding

In the mating season, male centipedes dance in front of females to care for them, and some species of centipedes just leave their spermatophors, females search for them and capture them.

In temperate areas, egg laying occurs in spring and summer, and in tropical and subtropical areas, centipedes can multiply throughout the season. Females lay their eggs in a dug hole, and from above cover them with soil. In one laying can be 10-50 eggs.

The time of development of embryos in different species of centipedes is very different - this process can take from one to several months. Stages of growth are also very different.

For example, it will take 3 years for the Coleoptera to reach puberty, and reproductive maturity in the species of the Lithiobiomorph occurs within a year.

Centipedes live long enough in comparison with other insects, for example, centipedes of the species Lithobius forficatus can live for 5-6 years.

Females of the species Scolopendromorpha and Geophilomorpha take care of the eggs. They do not leave the clutch and take care of the eggs for 16-60 days, licking and protecting them. And females of some species even stay with young people for some time. If someone is disturbed by laying, the female can throw it or eat eggs.

Centipedes can produce sticky toxic substances that deter predators.

Danger centipedes for people

Some types of centipedes for humans can be dangerous as they bite. The bite can be very painful, besides it provokes swelling, swelling, weakness, and can cause fever. And in severe cases, a centipede bite can be fatal. For young children, centipede bites are the most dangerous.

Small centipedes, as a rule, are not able to bite through human skin, but, nevertheless, people are very afraid of them. This is due to the fact that the centipedes run at night, have a huge number of moving paws, besides, they are very fast. The 19th century Tibetan poet even wrote that if a person likes to frighten other people, then in the next life he will be reborn as a centipede.

What is a centipede and how does it look?

The centipede is similar to the shaggy spider and the worm at the same time. She quickly appears and just as quickly disappears. Those who regard the centipede as an insect are mistaken. This is an arthropod animal whose body consists of 15 segments, each securely covered with a layer of quinine. Its size can reach 6 cm. The scolopendra has a threatening appearance (you can see in the photo above) due to the specific structure of the legs - each subsequent pair is longer than the previous one. The last legs transformed into the maxilla, so it is immediately difficult to determine where her head is and where her tail is.

The distinguishing feature of centipedes is a large number of pairs of legs, and with age new ones grow all the time. An adult individual has 15 pairs of legs. The main sentience of the centipede is complex faceted eyes and ultra-sensitive antennae. They she catches a lot of parameters of the external environment, can feel the approach of danger and find the most comfortable place for themselves. What an ordinary household skolopendra and other related species that live in natural conditions look like can be seen in the photo.

The body is shaggy, consists of segments with a high degree of freedom, which gives the centipede agility and excellent response. Due to the articular structure of the body and the special organization of the legs, the scolopendra moves very quickly - up to 60 cm per second, both on the horizontal and on the vertical surface.

What eats a flycatcher?

The flycatcher is a predator and feeds on insects. For people, it is not dangerous. Moreover, settling in a house or apartment, the flycatcher destroys ordinary pests: flies, cockroaches, ticks, ants. At any time of the day, she is looking for prey, hunting exclusively on cold-blooded inhabitants of the apartment, so she is not afraid of a warm-blooded person and pet.

She is able to eat only small insects, which can grab their feet. A centipede can bite a person at home only at the moment of attacking it in order to protect itself. The bite of the centipede is poisonous, but in humans it can cause a slightly pronounced allergic reaction that passes quickly.

Centipedes catch domestic pests, but do not eat them immediately. First, the centipede paralyzes insects with its toxins with the help of the maxillary teeth, and eats them after hunting. To do this, the animal finds a secluded safe nook where, slowly, holds its meal. During the search for food can be caught several insects. The flycatcher keeps its victims in numerous pairs of legs in a paralyzed state until it is eaten.

Why does she start up in the apartment?

Centipedes are very fond of moisture and avoid light. The presence of moist dark places and the presence of insects in them are the main causes of the appearance of flycatchers in the dwelling. In nature, they live in clusters of fallen leaves, cellars, under the boards in the garden. With the onset of cold weather, the animal is looking for a place where it is warmer, intending to hibernate. In search of food or wintering, a flycatcher can enter the house. Also, one of the inhabitants can bring it with things.

How to bring a centipede at home?

It is not so easy to get rid of the flycatcher, as she, like all centipedes, is not afraid of any stickies. Having lost several paws, the animal immediately regenerates them. The bait is also useless because it only eats insects. No matter how long you run after the fly-eater, the agile creature will run away anyway. To combat the centipede, it is necessary to eliminate the conditions favorable to its life and reproduction. In extreme cases, you can apply chemical treatment. To independently bring unpleasant inhabitants, you must:

  • Check all windows, doors, plumbing joints. If there are gaps close them up. The centipede penetrates only where it is humid and dark.
  • Check the ground in flower pots, as well as places in the kitchen where moisture can accumulate (cupboards and others).
  • Repair wooden floors: repair cracks, paint or lacquer the surface. The flycatcher is afraid of smells of dyes.
  • Remove the insects in the house. In the absence of food, the centipede will leave the room itself.
  • Clean up the sheds, basement, carefully check the wooden boards and tools, especially if they have already become dark gray or black from old age.

Do not try to catch and kill the centipede. She runs very fast, and with the threat of life can bite. At the dacha, in the garden or garden should not get rid of these creatures. Destroying pests, they bring great benefits, and trees and beds do not pose any danger.

There are cases when mechanical methods of dealing with flytraps do not help, and centipedes in the house have divorced a lot. Chemical control methods consist in the use of traditional insect control products. It should be borne in mind that all toxic substances on centipedes act weaker, because their body is reliably protected by a layer of quinine. Rather, the animal will simply leave the house for an unpleasant smell. Preparations for getting rid of centipedes:

  • "Dichlorvos"
  • Insecticide Medilis-Ziper is an effective but toxic remedy, it should be used in strict accordance with the description and instructions attached to the preparation,
  • gel "Great Warrior",
  • aerosol "Reid".

What is dangerous insect for humans?

The flycatcher does not attempt on the food of the owners, does not spoil the furniture and fabrics, does not bite the warm-blooded people and domestic animals, does not cause significant harm. Wielding exclusively at night, hunting for insect parasites. The families of the fly-eater do not form, therefore there is no need to be afraid of the big invasion of these creatures. However, the intimidating look of arthropods scares people, causes disgust.

  • to disinfect the bite site with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, if they are not available, then any other antiseptic,
  • if the wound burns and itches hard, you can make a cold compress,
  • some people experience individual intolerance to insect toxins and develop a strong allergic reaction, extensive swelling and redness — in this case, you need to drink an antihistamine tablet (Suprastin, Zodak, Zyrytek) and lubricate the wound with anti-edema hormonal ointment , "Fenistil").

Preventive actions

In order for the centipede to not start in the apartment, you need to avoid excessive dampness and remember that the creature will not live in a dry room. To do this, you should consider the following preventive measures:

  • systematic cleaning in “wet” rooms: bath and shower, thorough dry wiping of pipes and tiles,
  • timely sealing of cracks and cracks in the windows, on the floor, at the joints of water pipes,
  • fighting insects in the house
  • the destruction of mold in the apartment
  • do not allow stagnation of water in the pallets of flower pots,
  • periodically you need to ventilate and dry housing.

What does a centipede look like?

The length of the body of an adult centipede is 30-55 mm, and its color may be yellowish-gray or brown. There are three blue or purple-red stripes along the body, and insect legs are also striped. Like all arthropods, the centipede has an outer skeleton. It consists of chitin and sclerotin. The body of the flycatcher insect consists of 15 segments, each of which has a pair of legs, with the help of which balance is maintained during the movement.

The last couple of legs of the centipede can be easily confused with a mustache, because the legs are very long - the females often exceed the length of the whole body. Therefore, it is difficult for an uninitiated person to figure out where an insect has a head. A means to capture prey in the flycatcher is the first pair of limbs, transformed into the maxilla.

On both sides of the head are faceted eyes, which are well developed. Antennae from centipedes are whiplike and consist of 500-600 segments. A newly hatched flycatcher has four pairs of legs. However, their number increases after each molt - five, seven, nine and thirteen pairs. After another five molts in the centipede, you can count fifteen pairs of legs.

Breeding features

The breeding process usually begins in spring and summer with the release of pheromones by the female, followed by specific sound signals. The male weaves silk threads and leaves the spermatophore in them, which the female subsequently selects for her fertilization. During reproduction, females lay fertilized eggs into the soil, covering them with a specific sticky substance.

Hatching offspring within two weeks is next to the mother, which protects him from danger. Depending on the type of centipede, the development of embryos can vary significantly - from one month to several. Also different are the stages of growth. For example, puberty in beetles occurs after 3 years, and for the reproductive maturity of the Lithobiomorpha it takes only a year.

Centipedes, compared to other insects, live quite a long time. For example, representatives of the species Lithobius Forficatus can live 4-7 years.

Centipede lifestyle

Сороконожки являются хищниками и отличными охотниками – они уничтожают пауков, клопов, тараканов и мух. Но если в природе они ведут активную охоту в любое время суток, то в жилом помещении охотятся в основном только ночью. The flycatcher watches his prey by lurking on the ceiling or wall. Catching an insect, skolopendra by means of a bite injects it with a deadly substance, and then slowly eats it. It is worth noting that the flycatcher can immediately catch several victims. She eats them in turn, firmly holding in their paws.

The question of whether the centipedes bite can be answered in the affirmative, but only if we are talking about self-defense. However, insects in most cases can not even bite through thick human skin. If they still succeed, then in the affected place there will be a barely noticeable swelling and slight burning sensation, which will disappear literally within a few hours.

The bite of the centipede is absolutely harmless to humans - despite the fact that the insect is poisonous, the poison is very weak.

Flycatchers are insects that feel most comfortable in a humid climate. Therefore, in nature, they are most often found under fallen leaves, and in apartments and houses - in toilets, bathrooms or basements. In winter, even if they are indoors, skolopendry prefer to hide in dark places and do not show any activity.

Why settle in houses

The flycatcher behaves very carefully in a residential area. At first it is very difficult to find it. Since the centipede hunts exclusively at night, you can only notice it when you turn on the light. In the bathroom and toilet rooms the insect feels most comfortable.

By the way, to fear that the insect skolopendra may move to other rooms is not worth it. Also, do not be afraid that the flycatchers that appear will damage the wallpaper, furniture or houseplants. And although no residential space is insured against the appearance of centipedes, there are factors that contribute to their settlement in the house:

  • increased air humidity
  • faulty plumbing, because of which water is constantly dripping from the taps,
  • dampness indoors
  • insect-friendly temperature
  • suitable lighting
  • the presence of harmful insects.

Often, centipedes live under floors or in basements. They crawl around the house, using the slots and piping. The most suitable place of residence for the centipedes are the first floors. And though they do not threaten the tenants, not a single mistress will tolerate such living creatures in her house.

How to get rid

Practically all the methods used by the owners to fight cockroaches or bedbugs, there is no sense to use against centipedes - they will be ineffective. For example, stickies successfully used to control flies do not pose any threat to centipedes: an insect, having run on such a tape, will only lose a few paws, in place of which new ones will soon grow. Food bait also will not bring success, since only other insects are in the Scolopendra diet. Therefore, first of all, it is necessary to get rid of the “potential food” - beetles, which have chosen living quarters. If there is confidence that there are no such people in the apartment, it is necessary to do general cleaning, and in the case of living in a private house, remove old leaves and debris near it.

Since one of the main conditions for the appearance of flycatchers is high humidity, you need to clean the bathroom, if necessary, to carry out cosmetic repairs and repair faulty taps. It is very important to ensure that the ventilation opening is closed. At the same time, the grid should be mounted in such a way as to exclude the formation of gaps, which the millipedes can use to penetrate the house.

Appearance of a centipede

The common flycatcher, which we call the centipede, belongs to the numerous family of centipedes. It has 12,000 species. The flycatcher has a flat body divided into 15 segments. Each segment corresponds to a pair of legs. As a result of evolution, the first pair turned into mandibles, designed to capture prey. It is not difficult to calculate how many feet a centipede has - 30. The number of limbs depends on the age and type of the insect, the maximum number is 354. All centipedes have an odd number of pairs of legs.

The common flycatcher is usually referred to as insects, although formally, like all centipedes, it is an arthropod animal.

Interesting fact. The last pair of legs significantly exceeds the length of the remaining limbs. In female flycatchers, it is twice as large as the body. From the side, these legs look like antennae, so with a quick glance it is difficult to determine where the head of an insect is.

The size of the flycatcher is 35-60 mm, an adult individual, running at a speed of 40 cm / sec., Can make an unforgettable impression. On the sides of the head are faceted eyes. The insect has excellent vision, helping in the hunt. Long antennae of the flycatcher consist of hundreds of small segments. It has an external skeleton of chitin and sclerotin - a distinctive feature of all arthropods.

Segmented body and legs of the flycatcher

The body of the insect is greyish-yellow with three full-length dark stripes. Violet stripes are noticeable on the numerous legs of the flycatcher. Knowing what a centipede looks like, you will not confuse it with another type of centipede, the scolopendra. This insect is much more dangerous, its bite is strong and painful swelling.

Unlike the flycatcher, skolopendra can be dangerous


The common flycatcher can be found in many regions with a temperate climate. In Russia, this Volga region, the southern regions, is inhabited by an insect in the northern part of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Mediterranean countries. Under natural conditions, the centipedes hide under stones, fallen leaves, plant debris. The centipede hunts home, the photo of which is presented below, at any time of the day.

Centipede - Predator

In the human housing, they move with the onset of autumn cold. Prefer dark and wet places:

In the winter the insect hibernates, shows activity only with the advent of heat. In southern countries, centipedes are kindly treated because they help exterminate pests.

How do flytraps hunt?

They trap their prey using antennae-antennas that capture odors and vibrations. During the hunt, the centipede rises on its long legs, then immediately rushes at the spotted prey. To hold it, powerful jaw processes are used. Injected poison instantly paralyzes the insect. After eating, the flycatcher hides in a secluded place to digest food. Faced with a flytrap, people often wonder if the centipede is poisonous. Yes, the insect has glands that produce poison to kill prey.

Flies - the basis of the insect diet

If there are several victims within reach of the centipede, it catches them all. At the same time in the process of eating one midge, the rest she holds her legs.

Breeding centipedes

During the breeding season, the female begins to release pheromones that attract the male. The process of insect mating is peculiar. The male lays a capsule with sperm. The female picks up the spermatophore with genital appendages. The number of laid fertilized eggs ranges from 60 to 130 pieces. The common flycatcher digs a hole for them in moist soil, then covers it with a sticky substance.

Centipedes are born with four pairs of legs. Their number increases after each molt. It will take at least five molts until the number of legs reaches 15 pairs. In nature, insects live 3-7 years.

Centipedes in the house, what are these neighbors dangerous?

The appearance of the flycatcher in the house does not threaten its residents. The insect is more active in the dark, so the risk of encountering it will increase at night. When you turn on the light centipede rushes to a secluded slit. If the centipede is seen in the house in the summer, then it is better to catch it and take it out. You need to catch it not with your hands, but with a can or box. In tropical countries where there is no harsh winters, flycatchers do not migrate to their homes.

Flycatcher does not attack without reason

Having settled next door to a human, the insect does not encroach on its food, plants and domestic animals. Centipedes do not gnaw furniture or wallpaper, are not carriers of dangerous diseases. Invasions of a large number of flycatchers will not be either, they do not live in families. You can get along peacefully with them, even by benefiting from such a neighborhood. The small predator copes with pesky flies, and if cockroaches are hidden in the apartment, the centipede will get to them.

Is the centipede dangerous to humans? If there is a clear threat to life if attacked by a pet or a person, it can bite and inject poison under the skin. A small dose of paralyzing toxin is not lethal for pets and especially for people. It causes an unpleasant feeling, but not more than a bee sting. The propensity to be allergic to insect venom can exacerbate the situation, causing edema and general malaise.

Do centipedes bite?

Even the most non-aggressive being can bite from fear. The flycatcher, even attacking an adult, in most cases will not be able to bite through the skin. Children's skin is more delicate and thin, so getting a wound is real. Symptoms of toxin ingestion in the body will be redness, itching and burning. What if bitten centipede? The first tip is not to panic. The poison is very weak, it will not cause harm to health. It is necessary to act according to circumstances:

  • sanitize the wound - with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide,
  • with a strong burning sensation and swelling - it is necessary to apply a cold compress, hold until the loss of discomfort,
  • if the bite is sore, take an antihistamine and anesthetic.

Attention. Individual intolerance to the venom of the flycatcher can lead to complications. If symptoms of an allergic reaction appear - weakness, dizziness, breathing problems and others, you should go to the hospital.