How Many Legs Does A Centipede Have; Are They Dangerous to Humans?

Centipedes are arthropods belonging to Class Chilopoda. They are predatory and venomous. Venom is produced by a gland at the base of the fangs and is administered by maxillipeds on the first body segment.

The number of legs a centipede has depends upon the number of body segments that make up its body, and this number varies by species. Centipedes typically have one pair of legs per segment.

A fully equipped adult centipede can have between 15 and 177 pairs of legs. Members of the Orders Lithobiomorpha and Scutigeromorpha have 15 pairs of legs. Unlike other centipede species, the Scutigera have long, multiarticulate, hairy legs, which enable them to establish a solid grip on the ground and move very quickly.

However, Scutigera centipedes are not capable of pushing themselves through soil or into detritus. The house centipede has a rounded trunk with long, delicate legs, while the Geophilomorphs have long, slender bodies with up to 177 pairs of short legs. The colorful Scolopendromorphs have from 21 to 23 pairs of legs.

Are House Centipedes Poisonous to Humans?

Upon capturing prey, the poison gland is squeezed by the muscles surrounding it and ejects toxins through needle-like ducts. Despite this, the venom usually is not strong enough to be life threatening to people, and most centipede bites are typically more painful for humans than they are dangerous.

Centipedes possess maxillipeds, a modified pair of front legs that curve around the head and behind the mandibles. Maxillipeds enter a victim’s tissue and inject venom produced by a gland at their base. Small centipedes’ maxillipeds are too weak to penetrate human skin, and their bite typically yields only minor discomfort, similar to that caused by a bee sting.

Are Centipedes Overall Dangerous?

Smaller variants of centipedes produce nothing more than a painful, localized reaction, not unlike a bee sting. Larger species, however, administer more venom through a bite and can produce more extreme pain. While centipede bites can be extremely painful, they are not generally fatal to humans.

Pain from a centipede bite may last up to several days. However, an experiment conducted in the 1920`s concluded that the pain most commonly subsides after a number of hours. There can be swelling around the bite, and some victims may experience nausea, sweating and the swelling of lymph nodes following an attack.

Centipedes should not be handled since they may bite. Small children and those with known allergies should be observed carefully after a centipede bite. If medical concerns occur, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.

Individuals with other insect allergies should observe their symptoms closely in the event of a centipede bite. Beyond the initial pain caused by an attack, possible side effects include severe swelling, chills, fever and weakness. In the event of a severe allergic reaction, emergency medical services should be contacted immediately.

Clip below shows an explorer interviewing a giant desert centipede. 

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