Scolopendra is a fast-moving predatory insect. It is widely distributed throughout the planet, its favorite habitats are damp and cool places. Comfortable time of day for her is night. Agility and speed help the scolopendra to get its food, which it needs constantly.
Origin of the species and description
Scolopendra is an insect from the genus of tracheal arthropods. There are a huge number of varieties of scolopendra, and some species have not been studied to this day. The centipede can live both in the wild, forests and caves, and at home. Residents of the house are also called flycatchers. It does not bring harm to the owners of the house, but helps to get rid of other annoying insects.
The centipede is one of the most ancient insects on the planet. This insect evolved in the form that it has now, many years ago. Scientists have discovered a petrified individual, which carried out 428 million years ago. In molecular analysis, scientists have found that the separation of the main groups of centipedes occurred as early as the Cambrian period. According to the latest research conducted in 2005, P. newmani was the oldest known animal.
In comparison with other insects, centipedes are long-lived, some individuals live up to 7 years. Although the average individual lives for two years. Insect growth continues throughout life, although in some individuals growth ends at the stage of puberty. The main uniqueness of the centipede is the regeneration of the limbs. Lost legs grow back after molting, but may differ in size, new limbs are shorter and weaker.
Appearance and features
Scolopendra is the owner of a soft body, the main component of the exoskeleton is chitin. Therefore, like other invertebrates, it molts, shedding its shell as it grows. So, a young individual changes its “clothes” once every two months, an adult – twice a year.
The sizes of centipedes are different. Usually the body length is 6 cm, however, there are species whose length is 30 cm. The body of the scolopendra is divided into the head and torso and has about 20 segments (from 21 to 23). The first two segments are colored in a color that differs from the main color of the scolopendra, and do not have. The ends of the limbs are a spike. The limb contains a gland with poison.
An interesting fact: If a centipede runs through a human body, it will leave a slippery and burning trail.
The head of a centipede is harmoniously aligned with one plate, on which there are eyes, two antennae and poisonous non-jaws, while with which it attacks its prey. On all other segments of the body, a pair of limbs is located. The scolopendra uses the last pair of legs for reproduction and hunting for large prey. They serve as her anchor.
The color of the centipede varies from different shades of brown to green. There are also purple and blue individuals. The color of the insect does not depend on the species. The centipede changes colors depending on its age and climate.
Where does the centipede live?
Scolopendra can be found in all climatic regions. However, their population is especially expanded in places with a warm climate: the tropical forests of Central and South America, in the equatorial part of Africa, in the southern part of Europe and Asia. Giant centipedes live only in tropical climates, their favorite place is the Seychelles. Centipedes live in forests, on mountain peaks, on the territory of dry hot deserts, in rocky caves. Individuals that live in temperate regions do not grow large.
Interesting fact: It will not be possible to meet a giant centipede in our regions, since only small representatives of this arthropod species live here.
Centipedes prefer night life because bright light is not to their liking. They can't stand the heat, although they don't like rain either. When possible, they choose people's houses as their dwelling. Here, most often they can be found in a dark, damp basement.
In the wild, centipedes live in moist, dark places, most often in the shade under the foliage. Ideal places for the existence of centipedes are rotting tree trunks, bedding of fallen leaves, bark of old trees, cracks in rocks, caves. In the cold season, centipedes hide in warm places.
Now you know where centipede is found. Let's see what this insect eats.
What does a centipede eat?
The centipede naturally has anatomical adaptations with which it successfully copes with catching prey:
- wide throat;
- poison glands;
- tenacious legs.
The centipede is a predator. When attacking prey, the centipede first immobilizes the victim, and then slowly eats it. The chance of prey escaping from a centipede is very low, because not only does it move very quickly, it also makes attacking jumps.
Interesting fact: Centipede can move at speeds up to 40 cm per second.
Advantages of centipedes when hunting prey:
- has good vertical running skills;
- the insect is very dexterous and agile;
- has a quick response to any vibrations in the air;
- an individual can catch several victims at once.
Domestic centipede flycatchers eat any insects: cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, ants, bedbugs. Therefore, the flycatcher benefits the house in which it lives.
Forest centipedes prefer living creatures that live underground: earthworms, larvae, beetles. When it gets dark and the centipede leaves its hiding place, it can hunt for grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, wasps and ants. Skolopendra is very voracious, she needs to constantly hunt. When hungry, she becomes very aggressive. Large skolopendra also attacks small rodents: snakes, lizards, chicks and bats.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Skolopendra is a poisonous predatory insect that is a dangerous enemy for many insects and small animals. By biting its prey, the centipede paralyzes it with poison and slowly eats it. Since the centipede shows its activity at night, it is more productive to hunt at this time of day. During daylight hours, the centipede hides itself from enemies so as not to become a dinner for others, although during the day it also does not mind eating.
Centipedes prefer an anti-social life, so they live alone. The centipede rarely shows aggression towards its relative, but if there is a fight between two individuals, one of them dies in any case. In relation to the outside world, the centipede, as a rule, does not show friendliness. This is a nervous and vicious insect, whose anxiety is caused by the sensitive perception of her eyes of the light and colors of the surrounding world.
Therefore, any animal or insect that disturbs the centipede automatically becomes its target for attack. Escape from scolopendra is almost impossible, because it is very fast and agile. In addition, the centipede's digestive system, which digests food very quickly, requires constant replenishment of the food supply. Because of this, the centipede is constantly required to seek food.
Interesting fact: Chinese centipede digests a little less than half of its lunch in three hours.
Social structure and reproduction
Skolopendra become sexually mature in the second year of life. They begin to breed from mid-spring and do not finish throughout the summer. After the mating process has passed, after a couple of weeks, the female begins to lay eggs. The ideal place for laying eggs is damp and warm. On average, a female produces from 40 to 120 eggs per clutch, but not all of them survive. Females monitor their clutch and take care, covering it from danger with their paws. After the aging period, small worms appear from the eggs.
At birth, baby centipedes have only four pairs of legs. With each molting process, paws are added to the little centipede. Until a certain age, the mother is next to the offspring. But baby centipedes very quickly adapt to their environment and begin to live independently. Compared to other invertebrate representatives, invertebrates are real centenarians. Their average life expectancy is 6 – 7 years.
There are three stages of development and maturation of centipedes:
- embryo. A stage lasting one or one and a half months;
- nymph. This stage also lasts from one to one and a half months;
- juvenile. The stage reached by a small centipede after the third molt;
- over time, the color of the head color changes to a darker one, and the plate becomes easily distinguishable from the body. Young centipedes begin to live independently at the end of the third week. Centipede development and its rate depend on climatic conditions, nutrition, humidity and temperature. Each type of centipede has its own lifespan. After maturation, individuals, depending on the species, can live from two to seven years.
Centipede's natural enemies
In their natural habitat, centipedes are also hunted by predators. At the same time, the variety of species that eat the centipede is relatively small. The most dangerous natural enemies of the centipede are frog, toad, small mammals (shrew, mouse), bird. Owls love to hunt centipedes. Also, scolopendra is a nutritious protein food.
Domestic animals such as dogs and cats also eat flycatchers. But this can carry a certain danger, since parasites often live inside centipedes. When an animal eats a parasitic centipede, it automatically becomes infectious too. Scolopendra are a tasty morsel for snakes and rats.
Fun fact: Large centipedes can eat smaller centipedes.
Some peoples to this day consider skolopendra as tasty and healthy food, because its body contains a lot of protein. In certain cultures, there is a belief that the centipede, as food, cures many diseases that are incurable with drugs.
Conventional medicine does not recommend human consumption of centipedes, especially raw, because most individuals on the planet are infected with parasites. A dangerous parasite that lives in the body of a centipede is a rat lung worm. This parasite causes a dangerous disease that leads not only to incurable neuralgic diseases, but even death.
Population and species status
Centipedes are considered as the closest relatives of monobranched insects. Today, biologists adhere to two main hypotheses about the systematic position of centipedes. The first hypothesis is that centipedes, together with crustaceans, belong to the insect group Mandibulata. Adherents of the second hypothesis believe that centipedes are a sister group to insects.
Scientists around the world count 8 thousand varieties of centipedes all over the planet. At the same time, only about 3 thousand have been studied and documented. Therefore, centipedes are under close attention of biologists. Today, the centipede population has flooded the entire planet. Certain species of these insects have even been found outside the Arctic Circle.
It is rather problematic to exterminate the centipede population, because they are quite hardy. In order to bring out a home flycatcher, you will have to make a lot of effort. The main condition is to provide a draft in the room from which it needs to be driven out. Scolopendra do not tolerate drafts. In addition, it is necessary to remove dampness. Centipedes should not have access to water, without which they cannot live.
To consolidate the result, it is necessary to cover up all the cracks in the house so that new individuals cannot get inside. If centipedes settled indoors, it means that there is a cozy, cool, dark and damp corner for them. At the same time, this does not mean that they will begin to actively multiply and fill the entire dwelling.
Colopendra is an unpleasant and dangerous insect for the outside world, including humans. Its venomous bite can be fatal. The population of centipedes is widespread throughout the planet. Due to its aggressive disposition and dexterity, it easily finds food for itself, especially in the dark.