Why Do Centipedes Have so Many Legs?

Why Do Centipedes Have so Many Legs

Centipedes mean that they have 100 legs, and however they rarely have those many legs. They may have as little as 15 legs too. If you see centipedes crawling by with so many legs and ask why they have so many, then read on to know more. Centipedes are metameric, meaning their bodies divide into equal segments that are identical to one another. They belong to the subphylum Myriapoda, whose ancestors too had many legs and segments. Each segment of centipede bodies carries a pair of legs, leaving out second, last, and second last ones. The body segment closest to the head has two pairs of poisonous legs that they use for hunting. The last two segments are devoid of legs, and however, house reproductive organs. With the help of these multiple segments, they can crawl around all nooks and corners. These creatures also contort into shapes to sneak into these corners during times of danger. The legs happen to be a part of these segments. 

These creatures do have 100 or more legs. The longest centipede has 177 legs. The last known ancestors of centipedes had segmented bodies with a pair of appendages along each segment. As centipedes grow, there is a change in their number of legs. Also, how many legs a centipede may have depended on the species they belonged to. 

How are a Centipede’s Legs Important?

How are a Centipede’s Legs Important?

Centipedes are the invertebrate pests. And they utilize the legs on the body segment for hunting. The centipede’s last pair of the legs have the sensory bristles. When centipedes are imprisoned in the restricted places, these bristles act as an additional pair of antennae, allowing them to go backward. The farther they are from the centipede’s head, the longer their jointed legs get. This aids them in maintaining their agility and balance.

Another information about the centipede legs is that they may be thrown away when the circumstances requires it. When they feel threatened, centipedes can remove the legs. Those legs, however, are not permanently gone. After that, the legs will regrow soon.

Types of Centipedes

The most common types of centipedes include Geophilomorphs, Lithobiomorpha, Scolopendromorphs, and Scutigeromorpha. 


These centipedes are compact and short. They are about 4mm to 40 mm in size and then have 18 body segments and 15 pairs of legs. These creatures have longer sections. The front legs of these centipedes are shortest, while the legs grow bigger as they extend along the body. Centipedes use the last two pairs of legs for mating and catching the prey. They have a heart-shaped head and a ridge along each side of the body. 


This centipede has a short body with 15 pairs of the legs. Their size is anywhere between 1 to 6 cm. They run swiftly. Their leg size also increases in size as you go down the centipede’s body, just like lithobiomorpha. The last pair of legs of females is more than twice as long as the rest of the body. The pair of sensory organs below their eyes is known as tomosvary organs. These organs help centipedes to detect and sense vibration, light, and humidity. The other two names of these centipedes include Scutigera coleoptrata and house centipedes. You will find them in abandoned buildings or houses, offering them the desired living conditions. 

Where Do Centipedes Live?

Centipedes occupy most of the US and other parts of the world. They move fast and are nocturnal, so you may rarely see them around. Areas of high moisture attract these centipedes. Rotting logs, trash, piles of leaves or grass, and rocks are someplace you can commonly spot them. Inside homes, they may be present in damp basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, or near potted plants. Most arthropods have a waxy covering or the cuticle to prevent water loss, which these centipedes lack. So, they mostly prefer moist, dark, and damp places or environments as their habitat. When they inhabit deserts and arid environments, they alter their behavior to minimize dehydration. They could delay activity until it rains by entering diapause during hot and dry spells. These creatures adapt to burrowing and also live in leaf litter, soul, under tree bark, or beneath stones. Nonetheless, you will find a diverse range of centipedes in tropical and warm environments. 

You will also find these centipedes in a house that offers vast food sources for them to feed on. They usually feed on insects like cockroaches and spiders. An abundant food supply attracts these centipedes into such homes. Leaking water pipes can result in centipede infestation inside a house. These leaking pipes also become an ideal spot for their breeding. You will also spot numerous centipedes around house plants as they feed on the insects that survive on these plants. Centipedes may eat these pests that destroy these plants, but they only add to your pest woes. House centipedes are mostly found in the Mediterranean, but they also inhabit most homes around the world. 

Also Read: How To Get Rid Of Centipedes

How to Keep the Centipedes Out of the House?

How to Keep the Centipedes Out of the House

Utilize these methods to prevent centipedes from entering your house. 

  • Avoid over-watering the plants in your garden. Moist soil attracts centipedes. 
  • Caulk your house walls to block the entry of centipedes. Centipedes crawl through cracks and openings.
  • Replace all old door frames and windows in your house. They may have cracks in them.
  • Inspect and fix your house’s wooden siding, which also retains moisture. You can touch and tell whether they are damp or not. 
  • Maintain a dry drain to avoid centipedes coming close to these areas. Check all the sink and shower drain in your house and keep them dry.


Author Ana