Centipedes are arthropods with long, segmented bodies and many legs. They can be found all over the world, both on land and in water. They are a significant part of the ecosystem, feeding on insects, spiders, and other small creatures. While there are numerous types of centipedes, they can be arranged into five classifications based on their physical characteristics, behaviours, and body structures.
- Geophilomorph Centipedes:
In general, these are very long and slender centipedes that have a high number of body segments and legs. Geophilomorph centipedes usually feed on small arthropods and are commonly found in soil or leaf litter. Their extended and thin bodies can have more than 100 pairs of legs and be up to 30 cm long. The Scolopendridae family subfamily Geophilomorpha has many members that use mandibles instead of fangs to inject venom into their prey.
- Lithobiomorph Centipedes:
Lithobiomorph centipedes are generally less than 5cm of length, making them the smallest of the five classes. They have a body with 15 pairs of legs. They sport a flat, elongated body structure with many segments and long antennae. Lithobiomorph Centipedes are commonly found on the ground or in leaf litter and prefer dark areas. Despite their small size, they are not harmless.
- Scutigeromorph Centipedes:
Scutigeromorph centipedes, often known as "house centipedes" are significantly larger than Lithobiomorph centipedes, usually 7-10cm in length. They have long antennae and two long legs. These segments cover the majority of their long, narrow bodies. Scutigeromorph centipedes spend most of their time hiding in dark corners, particularly basements, and feeding on other small insects such as cockroaches and spider. They have 15 pairs of legs and are mainly nocturnal.
- Scolopendromorph Centipedes:
Scolopendromorph centipedes are similar to geophilomorph centipedes in their long, thin shape and high number of leg pairs. Scolopendromorph centipedes can, however, grow much more significant than other centipedes. The tail of these centipedes contains venom, which they use to kill their prey. They can be quite dangerous, particularly to people with allergies and are a frequent topic in media, both as a threat and a sensation.
- Cryptopid Centipedes:
Cryptopid centipedes can be found underground, particularly in cave systems or in rainforest environments. They feed on insects and other small arthropods and employ long, slender body structures to navigate through the soil and leaf litter. They have 15 pairs of legs and a short, flattened appearance.
Classification is essential to understand the various types of centipedes as their behaviours, physical structure, and other characteristics vary based on their category. Each category of centipede has a unique contribution to controlling insect populations or to the ecosystem at large. While some species may be harmful or poisonous, many more are harmless to humans and important for the environment.
Centipedes come in a range of sizes, behaviours, and body structures. These fascinating creatures thrive on our planet, and each species makes an important contribution to their ecosystem. Knowing the different types of centipedes becomes important when attempting to control their populations or identifying them in scientific research. It is vital to keep in mind that each species plays a unique role in the balance of the ecosystem, and it's always essential to protect them.