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  • Université de lorraine

Chilopod myriapods



Classification (systematic position)
Source : INPN


Animal Kingdom
Embranchement (Phylum) : Arthropoda
Subphylum: Myriapoda
Classe : Chilopoda





Morphological characteristics
Myriapods (centipedes) with a flattened, long and segmented body, many legs which are more or less long depending on the species, only one pair of legs per segment (which differentiates them from diplopods), the first segment has no legs but a pair of poisonous fangs (forcipules), 2 last pairs of legs longer than the others, 2 antennae more or less long depending on the species. Geophiles and centipedes have shorter legs and a thinner, elongated body than lithobia.


Life cycle
Centipedes reproduce from May to July. Males deposit a spermatophore (pouch containing sperm) on the ground and attract a female to this pouch with a courtship dance. Some lithobia females retrieve the spermatophore by mounting directly on the male's back. Subsequently, the females lay their eggs in the ground, under moss, stones or bark and watch the eggs until they hatch. Some Lithobia females make an ootheca to protect the eggs and leave them in a shell of mucus and earth. The young will moult several times before becoming adults. Some have all their segments at birth (epimorphs) while others will have a limited number of segments and atrophied legs that will develop with moulting (anamorphs).


Centipedes are carnivorous predators that hunt on the surface or in the ground to capture small arthropods, earthworms, small molluscs or spiders.


Natural predators or regulators
Centipedes are preyed upon by rodents and birds.


Centipedes live in moist environments sheltered from light under stones, under piles of wood or even in houses.


Interests in the garden
Centipedes regulate the populations of a large number of arthropods and the populations of other predators such as spiders.


Did you know ?
Centipedes hunt by running or lying in wait and use their highly sensitive limbs to detect their prey.

The Scutigera coleoptrata, which is sometimes found in homes, is a harmless species (for humans) of the chilopod that can jump by leaning on its hind legs, which are longer, allowing it to propel forward

Last change : 03/04/22
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