Garden Centipede

Lithobius forficatus

Garden Centipedes are one of many species of centipedes, most of which look very similar. Garden Centipedes grow up two inches long. They are usually reddish-brown.

Like all centipedes, Garden Centipedes have a flattened body and many legs. How many legs a centipede has depends on its species and age. Fully grown Garden Centipedes have 30 legs (15 pair). If it has less, it is because it is not fully grown.

Garden Centipedes have venom claws directly behind their heads. They use these claws to attack prey.

© Garden Safarie, http://www.gardensafari.net/

The back two legs of centipedes are longer than the others. These are used to lasso prey so the centipede can hold on until it can bite.

Garden Centipedes eat insects, spiders, and other small animals. The venom they use will paralyze the prey so that it cannot move.

Centipedes also have long antennae and are fast runners.

Garden Centipedes live in woods, fields, and gardens. They are normally found under bark, logs, rocks, and leaf litter. They must be in a place that is moist to survive.

Garden Centipedes have tiny holes, called spiracles, on the sides of their body segments. They use these to breathe.

After mating, the female centipede digs a small hole, drops an egg in, fills in the hole, and leaves. She will do this several times.

When young Garden Centipedes hatch, they have 14 (seven pair) legs. As they grow, they will have to molt (shed their skins). Each time a centipede molts, it gains new body segments and legs. When it has 30 (15 pair) legs, it fully grown.

Garden Centipedes can live up to six years.

Dr. Lutz Nevermann, http://www.nevermanns.de/hemocytes

Adult Garden Centipedes will overwinter, and then lay eggs in the warm months.

These centipedes are mostly nocturnal (active at night) and they are ground hunters. Their predators include shrews, birds, and moles.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Unidentified Centipede's Head Under a Microscope
Link to Image
Uglybug.org

Relationships in Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

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Relationship to Humans:

Many people are afraid of centipedes. While they do have sharp claws and venom, most species, including the Garden Centipede, have weak jaws and cannot penetrate human skin. If they do, the bite will be less painful than a bee sting.

Garden Centipedes sometimes enter homes. They do no damage, and in fact are great pest killers. They will eat cockroaches, moths, and flies. In gardens, they eat huge numbers of insects, including destructive pests.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Arthropod
CLASS
Chilopoda
ORDER
Lithobiomorpha
FAMILY
Lithobiidae
GENUS
Lithobius
SPECIES
Lithobius forficatus

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