Megarian Banded Centipede, Scolopendra cingulata

Scolopendra cingulata, with common names Megarian banded centipede and the Mediterranean banded centipede, is the most common scolopendromorph species in the mountainous locales of the Mediterranean region. S. cingulata can often be found under stones, rocks and fallen tree trunks where it rests during the day. The escolopendra, as it is referred to in Spanish, feeds nocturnally.

S. cingulata has an amazing appetite for its size, eating cricket, worm, spider, moth and even young mice. It is not a social creature even going so far as to engage in cannibalism on occasion.

Their bodies are long (4 to 6 inches) and contain several flattened segments. Their coloring is brown to yellow or orange, dependent upon age and sex. The young are more brightly colored, while females are typically darker and larger than males.

They will protect themselves with their main weapon, their bite which paralyses its prey. It mimics the scorpion by being able to lift its tail and its pincer-like claws on one end can deliver a very painful bite.

S. cingulata hibernates during the winter months. Their breeding season starts in March/April. At the beginning of mating season, the male will spin a web and deposit his spermatophore into it, in preparation for the female. When the female arrives, she takes the spermatophore and leaves with it, using it to fertilize her own eggs, without further input from the male. It takes up to 1 hour to complete.

After a gestation period of one month, 20-30 eggs will have been produced. The female incubates for an additional 1-2 months. During this time, she will physically wrap herself around them to protect from predators. It has been noted that if there is disturbance during this time the female has been known to eat her own eggs or young.

Young members of the species, upon making it to adulthood will typically participate in reproduction after year 1. Overall lifespan for S. cingulata is approximately 7 years.

Image Caption: Scolopendra cingulata, centipede. Credit: Eran Finkle/Wikipedia  (CC BY-SA 3.0)