As observed in order Scolopendromorpha and order Geophilomorpha, some centipede larvae can emerge from the egg with an adult number of body segments. However, this epimorphic development is limited to these two orders, both of which also give birth to live larvae. Other centipede species lay eggs, which then hatch into larvae.
Centipede eggs are white, creamy yellow or brown in color. They are smooth and spherical and measure approximately 0.4 mm in diameter. With the help of sticky secretions, centipede eggs are typically joined together in clusters and are rolled in soil for camouflage.
Centipede larvae for some species initially have four pairs of legs, gaining the rest as they go through a series of molts. While passing into adulthood, centipede larvae are yellowish to dark brown in appearance and are identified by dark markings. Adult centipedes measure 4 to 152 mm in length and have flattened bodies comprised of 15 to 177 body segments. Each body segment of the adult centipede bears one pair of legs. A centipede can live as long as six years.
Beyond their initial development, most centipedes are solitary creatures. When they come into close range with members of the same species, they become aggressive and perform avoidance rituals. Centipedes may also exhibit cannibalism.
Centipedes spend winters in seclusion and mate in the summer, laying 35 eggs or more. The mating habits of many species of centipedes do not include direct contact. In these species, the male centipede will deposit a sperm packet for a female to find and engulf, leading to fertilization.