Alphabetical Plant Listing


Chilopoda class

Centipedes are elongated, many-legged arthropods that belong to the class Chilopoda. They are found in many different habitats around the world, from deserts to forests and from caves to gardens. Centipedes play an important role in controlling the populations of pests in gardens and other habitats. They are nocturnal and tend to be most active at night when they hunt for food and move about in search of mates.

Where to find them

Centipedes can be found in many different regions worldwide, from temperate forests to tropical rainforests and from deserts to caves. They are found in various habitats and are often associated with moist, dark environments, such as leaf litter, logs, and soil.

In North America, centipedes are found in most states, from California to Florida and from Texas to Maine. Some common species of centipedes in North America include the giant centipede (Scolopendra heros), the common desert centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha), and the stone centipede (Lithobius forficatus).

In Europe, centipedes are found in many countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Some common species of centipedes in Europe include the common centipede (Hemiscolopendra marginata), the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata), and the forest centipede (Nyctiphilus rectipes).

In Asia, centipedes are found in many countries, including China, India, Japan, and Thailand. Some common species of centipedes in Asia include the giant centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes), the red-headed centipede (Scolopendra morsitans), and the yellow-legged centipede (Ethmostigmus rubripes).

In South America, centipedes are found in many countries, including Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. Some common species of centipedes in South America include the giant centipede (Scolopendra gigantea), the Amazonian centipede (Scolopendra amazonica), and the forest centipede (Hemiscolopendra marginata).


Centipedes are elongated, many-legged arthropods. They have a distinctive appearance, with a long, segmented body and multiple legs attached to each segment. The number of legs can vary between species, but most centipedes have between 15 and 177 pairs.

Centipedes have a flat, elongated head equipped with a pair of long antennae and powerful jaws. These jaws, called maxillipeds, are used to capture and kill prey. Centipedes feed on insects and other small invertebrates, such as spiders, millipedes, and snails.

Centipedes have a hard exoskeleton that provides protection and support. The exoskeleton is segmented and divided into three main parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Each segment is protected by a pair of legs, which are used for movement and to maintain balance.

Centipedes are generally nocturnal and prefer to live in dark, moist environments, such as leaf litter, logs, and soil. 

In general, centipedes are not harmful to humans and do not pose a threat to their health. However, some species of centipedes are venomous and can bite humans if they are provoked. The bite of a centipede can be painful, but it is generally not lethal, and most people recover fully within a few days.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a centipede begins with the laying of eggs by the female. The number of eggs laid can vary between species, but most centipedes lay between 20 and 100 eggs at a time. The eggs are usually deposited in a damp environment, such as in soil or leaf litter, where they will be protected, and the young will have a food source when they hatch.

After hatching, the young centipedes, known as larvae, have a similar appearance to the adults, but they have fewer legs and are smaller in size. As the larvae grow, they molt their exoskeleton, a process known as molting, and their body grows, as does the number of legs. This process is repeated several times until the centipede reaches maturity.

Once the centipede reaches maturity, it will live for several years, depending on the species. During this time, it will continue to feed on insects and other small invertebrates, and it may mate and lay its own eggs.

Centipedes are known for their longevity, and some species can live for up to six years. However, they also face many natural predators, including birds, reptiles, and other arthropods, which can reduce their lifespan.

Why a Beneficial Arthropod?

Centipedes are considered beneficial arthropods because they help to control the populations of other insects and small invertebrates. They feed on a variety of insects and other arthropods, including flies, beetles, spiders, and even small worms, which can help to keep these populations in check.

By reducing the populations of other insects and invertebrates, centipedes play an important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. This can help to prevent the overpopulation of certain species, which can have negative impacts on the environment, including the loss of food sources for other animals and the spread of diseases.

In addition to their role in controlling insect populations, centipedes also play a role in breaking down organic matter in the soil, helping to enrich the soil and improve soil fertility.

Overall, while centipedes may not be the most well-known or appreciated insects, they play a valuable role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems and supporting the environment's health. By controlling the populations of other insects and contributing to soil fertility, centipedes are beneficial insects worth preserving and protecting.

Attract this Beneficial Arthropod to your Garden

To attract centipedes to your garden, you can create a habitat conducive to their needs. Here are a few steps you can take to create a centipede-friendly environment:

  1. Provide moist conditions: Centipedes prefer moist environments, so you can keep your soil moist and create shade areas to help retain moisture.

  2. Offer hiding places: Centipedes like to hide in dark, damp places, so provide them with plenty of hiding places by using mulch, compost, rocks, or logs.

  3. Avoid using pesticides: Centipedes feed on other insects, so avoid using pesticides in your garden that could harm them.

  4. Create a diverse environment: By planting a variety of plants in your garden, you can attract a variety of insects, which will provide a food source for the centipedes.

  5. Keep a healthy soil: A healthy soil will support the growth of a variety of plants and insects, which will attract centipedes. Keep your soil well-drained and fertilized to help maintain its health.

Guide Information

Nattawat Kaewjirasit, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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