What Do Centipedes Eat?

centipedes-eat Credit: prkos/CC-BY-2.0

Centipedes eat insects, worms, spiders and small vertebrates. They have claw-like structures with glands that produce a venom that paralyzes their prey. Two of the hind legs are longer than the rest, and centipedes use these legs to capture and hold on to prey until they can bite.

Centipedes have long, sensitive antennae that they use to detect their prey. Centipedes can run fast, and they thrive in moist places. Although centipedes can help homeowners get rid of household pests, centipedes can bite, and their bites are as painful as bee stings. Centipedes have 15 to 117 pairs of legs, not necessarily 100 legs as their name suggests.

Centipedes, together with millipedes and other minor groups, are myriapods, named for their many legs. It is likely that myriapods or related species were the very first animals on land. They possess thin cuticles and require moist environments to survive.

Centipedes have a pair of legs on each of their body segments, unlike millipedes, which have two per segment. In addition to the modified fangs on the first body segment, the legs on the last body segment are usually modified to function like antennae. Centipedes have simple eyes and poor eyesight and rely on other senses to catch prey, including sensing vibrations in the earth. Most centipedes are solitary hunters, although a few species are found in groups. Many invertebrates and vertebrates prey on centipedes, and they rely on fast running, concealment and their poison fangs to protect themselves.