Centipedes

CENTIPEDES

Centipedes are predators, and mainly use their antennae to seek out their prey. The digestive tract forms a simple tube, with digestive glands attached to the mouthparts. Centipedes breathe through a tracheal system, typically with a single opening, or spiracle on each body segment.

Centipede reproduction does not involve copulation. Males deposit a spermatophore for the female to pick up. In some instances, the spermatophore is deposited in a web, and the male undertakes a courtship dance to encourage the female to engulf his sperm. In other cases, the males just leave them for the females to find.

The number of eggs laid ranges from about 10 to 50. Time of development of the embryo to hatching is highly variable and may take from one to a few months. Some species of female show far more parental care. The eggs, 15 to 60 in number, are laid in a nest in the soil or in rotten wood. The female stays with the eggs, guarding and grooming them to protect them from fungi. The female in some species stays with the young after they have hatched, guarding them from predators. If disturbed, the female will either abandon the unhatched eggs or eat them.

The majority of centipedes feed primarily on Earthworms. Larger species of centipedes are able to feed on vertebrates as well as invertebrates. They have been observed eating reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats and birds.

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