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Centipedes are segmented insects with long bodies, usually having one pair of legs per segment.
They are venomous in nature, and usually prey on insects smaller than them. They have venomous pincers called forcipules located on the first pair of legs right behind their heads.
Though the name centipede indicates that these insects have 100 pairs of legs, the number of pairs actually ranges from 35-354, depending on the species. An interesting fact is that they always have an odd number of pairs of legs on their body! To learn more about the largest house centipede and more, read on!
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Centipedes are carnivorous in nature! Let's understand what these creatures eat.
Their diet consists of invertebrates smaller than them like worms, spiders, crickets, moths, and even other centipedes! Larger centipede species like the Peruvian giant yellow leg centipede feed on bigger prey like mice, frogs, lizards, and bigger insects like beetles and cockroaches. They are nocturnal in nature and do all their hunting in the dark.
Centipedes can be found in numerous habitats - ranging from forests and grasslands to deserts and tropical rainforests, and even urban areas like your home! In fact, it's said that you should not squish any centipedes you find in your house as they are good at dealing with smaller pests, and killing them could increase your chances of hosting insect infestations!
Scolopendra gigantea, the largest centipede in the whole world, is also the deadliest! This giant centipede can be found in its natural habitat of tropical and subtropical as well as and dry forests all over South America and the Caribbean. They are commonly found in Brazil, Peru, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Trinidad. Belonging to the family Scolopendridae, these insects are predators of their own soil-based ecosystem, and usually have a length of 6 in (15 cm). These centipedes have a dark yellow body which can be brown or red as well, and yellow legs.
The largest centipede ever recorded is thought to be a Vietnamese centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes), belonging to the same family as the Scolopendra gigantea. It was caught and killed by a Hawaiin man in 2018. It is supposedly 14.5 in (36.8 cm) in length. However, the Guinness book record of the world's largest centipede belongs to a Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede found in Venezuela, which had a 10 in (25 cm) body.
Centipede bites can be quite painful, as they are venomous in nature. Centipedes sting their prey in order to kill or immobilize them before consumption. They prey on smaller animals such as worms and insects, which can easily be killed with a minimal amount of venom injected into them.
Though centipedes do not bite humans unless they are provoked, their bite can still be painful depending on the species. Centipedes sting with their forcipules, which have pincers located at the tips. A centipede bite can be identified by the V-shaped mark left behind in the shape of these forcipules.
Due to small amount of venom injected, any symptoms and pain usually subside in a few hours, unless the person affected is allergic. Centipede venom contains a host of chemicals which can affect people with allergies negatively and cause cardiovascular and neurological problems in large amounts.
General symptoms of a centipede bite include redness and swelling of the area, itching and pain, and numbness and headaches in larger amounts. These bites can be treated easily at home by washing the bite with soap and water and using an ice pack wrapped inside a cloth to reduce the swelling. Ointments and mild painkillers can be taken to deal with any lingering pain.
If the bite is administered by more dangerous species, then extreme symptoms may include bleeding, nausea, fever, and chills, increased heart rate, and skin infections. If these symptoms occur then it's best to visit the hospital.
Yes, a genus of centipede known as Arthropleura, which are thought to be the largest land invertebrates to have ever existed, are extinct. They are thought to have looked like bigger versions of the Scolopendra centipedes, however, unlike them, they were herbivores. They are closely related to modern centipedes, who have evolved form them.
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