Do Centipedes Care For Their Young?

Red Centipede with Babies

Before you answer, take a look at this photo, taken by my dad John Serrao. He found this female red centipede, Scolopocryptops sexpinosus, underneath a log in the Blackwater Sate Forest in the Florida panhandle.

Clutching between 60 and 75 babies in her 46 legs, she appears to be guarding her brood from potential predators like salamanders or spiders. She also licks them to keep fungi from growing on their skin. “I’ve found other female centipedes guarding their eggs in a similar way, so it appears that there is a level of maternal care in centipedes that isn’t found in many other arthropods,” says Dad. “The total amount of time that she remains with the eggs and babies may be as much as 2 months.”

There are a few related species of centipedes that go to even more extremes — the babies eat the mother!

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