Centipedes’ Reproductive Cycle
Centipedes do not undergo a process of metamorphosis, though their young may pass through several molts during growth. Centipedes mate in warm months and stay dormant through winter. A centipede may live up to six years.
The centipede reproductive cycle involves distinct rituals. The female centipede first releases pheromones to attract a male, who, in some species, then weaves a silk pad deposited with sperm, known as a spermatophore. The spermatophore is either left for her to find and take up or is brought to her attention via a courtship dance, during which the male taps the female’s posterior legs with his antennae. Typical indoor centipede’s reproductive cycle produces up to 35 eggs. Other species of centipedes give birth to living young.
Centipedes lay their eggs in the hollows of rotting logs or in the soil. Most females will tend to their eggs and hatchlings, curling their bodies around their brood for protection. In addition, eggs are prone to the growth of fungi and require grooming to ensure that they reach adulthood. However, some species may abandon or eat their eggs.
Upon hatching, many centipede young have fewer pairs of legs than the adults and acquire the additional body segments and legs each time they molt. Because centipedes have outer skeletons, they must undergo a series of molts, shedding their exteriors. However, the hatchlings of the Scolopendromorphae and Geophilomorphae are born with a complete set of legs.