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How many babies do house centipedes have?

House centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) are common arthropods that are found in many homes. They have long, flattened bodies with 15 pairs of legs. House centipedes are capable of very rapid movement and use their venomous claws to kill and eat other small arthropods such as spiders, bed bugs, cockroaches, silverfish, and termites.

Despite their frightening appearance, house centipedes are generally considered harmless to humans. They do not spread diseases or infest food. Their venom is not considered medically significant and they rarely bite people unless handled roughly. Their presence is actually considered beneficial since they prey on many household pests.

One interesting aspect about house centipedes is their complex reproductive cycle. This article will examine the question: how many babies do house centipedes have?

Life Cycle

House centipedes have a relatively long and complex lifecycle compared to other common household arthropods. They go through multiple molts and developmental stages before reaching full maturity and reproducing.


The lifecycle begins with the female house centipede laying eggs. Females lay 15 to 60 eggs at one time depending on factors such as age, health, and environment. The eggs are laid in small groups in hidden, humid locations like under bark, in soil, or behind baseboards.

The eggs are soft, oval-shaped, and measure about 1.5 mm in length. They are initially pearly white but darken with age.

First Instar

After 7 to 10 days, the eggs will hatch into first instar nymphs. These newly emerged nymphs look like tiny versions of the adults, with a flattened body and 15 pairs of legs. However, they are not fully developed and lack certain adult structures like reproductive organs.

First instars are about 2-3 mm in length. They will proceed to molt and develop over time, going through a total of 6 to 8 instars before reaching full maturity.

Later Instars

Later instars progressively grow larger with each successive molting stage. The number of molts required depends on factors like temperature, humidity, and food availability. Under optimal conditions, house centipedes can complete development in as little as 2-3 months.

In each instar, the legs and body segments become more defined. The final adult coloration starts to appear in the last couple of instars.

The maximum size achieved by house centipedes is around 15-30 mm in length. The average lifespan in nature is 2-3 years.


Once house centipedes reach full reproductive maturity as adults, they will seek out mates and begin the reproductive cycle again.

Adults have distinct anatomical features that distinguish them from younger stages, including:

– Fully developed last pair of legs into reproductive organs.
– Presence of wings or wing stubs on mature adults.
– Larger size and darker coloration.
– Fully defined head and body segments.

The reproductive organs at the end of the body allow the adults to transfer sperm during mating. The female will lay a new batch of eggs shortly after being fertilized.


Now that we have covered the basic house centipede life stages, we can look specifically at details of their reproduction.

House centipedes practice indirect sperm transfer using specialized reproductive legs. They do not copulate directly like some other arthropods.


To reproduce, a male and female house centipede will first go through a mating “dance” where they stand face-to-face and touch antennae. This behavior allows them to detect chemical signals that indicate the other is a suitable mate.

If receptive, the male will deposit a spermatophore for the female to take up. He uses his reproductive legs to transfer the sperm packet to the female’s reproductive organs. The actual sperm transfer takes just a few seconds.

Mating can occur multiple times as the female stores up sperm to fertilize her eggs. Adult centipedes may reproduce more than once during their 2-3 year lifespans.

Egg Laying

Once she has mated and received enough sperm, the now fertilized female will begin laying eggs.

Females lay between 15 to 60 eggs at a time. She will deposit eggs in groups of 5-20 in suitable hidden locations. The female lays the eggs at intervals of 1-3 days.

Based on observing females kept isolated in captivity, researchers estimate that each female house centipede can lay 900 to 1800 eggs over the course of her adult lifetime.

This high reproductive potential allows house centipede populations to grow rapidly if environmental conditions are favorable.

Development Rate

After being laid, the eggs take between 7-10 days to hatch. The tiny first instar nymphs will then progress through a series of molts over 2-3 months before maturing to adults.

Once mature, house centipedes may reproduce again after another 1-3 month period. So under optimal conditions, new generations can arise as quickly as every 2-3 months.

Cooler temperatures tend to slow down the rate of development, while warmer temperatures speed it up. But in general, house centipedes can produce multiple generations per year.

Brood Size

When asking how many babies house centipedes have, “brood size” refers to the number of eggs laid per reproductive cycle.

As mentioned above, females lay 15 to 60 eggs per brood on average. But what influences brood size?

Age of Female

Younger house centipede females who are laying eggs for the first time will tend to have smaller brood sizes. As the female matures and mates multiple times, she is able to lay larger batches of eggs in each reproductive cycle.

Older, more experienced females tend to produce the maximum brood sizes in the range of 40-60 eggs.


The environment also impacts reproductive capacity. House centipedes thriving in optimal habitats with plenty of food resources and mild conditions will invest more energy into reproduction.

In those ideal conditions, brood sizes tend to be larger. Stressful environments lead to smaller brood sizes since the female has fewer metabolic resources to invest in eggs.

Time of Year

Brood size also varies depending on the time of year or season. For house centipedes in temperate climates, larger broods are typically laid in spring and summer when conditions are most suitable for nymphal development.

Smaller broods are laid in fall and winter since cooler temperatures slow down growth. The female lays fewer eggs to match the carrying capacity of the environment.

Population Density

In areas where house centipede populations are already very dense, brood sizes tend to decrease. This may be due to competition for resources like food and habitat.

In sparse populations, reproductive output increases to take advantage of abundant resources. So lower density means larger broods, and vice versa.

Total Reproductive Potential

Based on the average number of eggs laid per brood and number of reproductive cycles in a lifetime, scientists estimate the total reproductive potential of house centipedes:

– Average brood size: 15 – 60 eggs
– Broods per lifetime: 10 – 20 cycles
– Eggs over a lifetime: 150 – 1,200 eggs

The typical range is about 900 – 1,800 eggs laid per female during her adult stage. However, maximal estimates under ideal conditions suggest a single female could lay up to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime.

This high fecundity allows house centipede populations to proliferate rapidly. Even with fairly high mortality rates among nymphs and juveniles, enough individuals survive to maintain or expand the population.

Population Growth Potential

To illustrate the potential growth rate based on reproductive capacity, let’s look at a hypothetical scenario:

– Female lays 1,000 eggs in lifetime
– 50% eggs survive to adulthood (500 adults)
– 1:1 sex ratio between males and females
– Let’s assume 250 females from the cohort mate and reproduce
– If each lays 1,000 eggs again…
– In just one generation there would be 250,000 offspring

In ideal conditions with low mortality, house centipedes could exponentially increase in population size within just a generation or two. Their high reproduction rate helps offset losses and allows them to quickly colonize new areas.

While the growth rate is not always this extreme, it demonstrates how house centipedes are capable of rapid population increases when given the opportunity. Home infestations can arise and get out of hand quickly if reproduction goes unchecked.

Comparison to Other Species

The reproductive capacity of house centipedes is high compared to many other arthropods. This allows them to successfully exploit human dwellings:


– Ootheca egg cases contain 16-40 eggs
– Average female produces 4-8 oothecae
– Total lifetime eggs around 80-200


– Varies widely by species
– 100-3000 eggs per sac depending on type
– 1-7 egg sacs produced by female

Bed Bugs

– 200-500 eggs over a lifetime
– Up to 5 generations per year
– But require blood meal to reproduce

The house centipede’s potential lifetime fecundity outpaces many competitors. Their prolific breeding allows them to thrive in suitable indoor spaces.

Ecological Impact

What are the ecological consequences of house centipedes reproducing so successfully in human homes?

Prey Control

– Helps suppress cockroach, silverfish, spider populations
– Feeding low on food chain helps regulate household pests

Population Cycling

– Rapid growth when prey abundant
– Decline when overpopulate and deplete prey
– Dynamic equilibrium population size

Habitat Change

– Modify microhabitats in homes (humidity, temperature)
– Impacts other species dependent on similar resources

Overall house centipedes play an important role as predators. But their rapid reproduction means populations must be monitored to prevent harmful overproliferation.


In conclusion, house centipedes can produce relatively large broods of 15 to 60 eggs. Each female lays multiple batches over her 2-3 year adult lifespan, with a total fecundity estimated between 900-1800 eggs.

Their high reproductive capacity helps house centipedes successfully exploit human dwellings and regulate populations of other pest arthropods. However, rapid reproduction also means they must be diligently controlled to prevent excessive population growth. Understanding details of their life cycle and reproductive biology allows homeowners to take appropriate measures for management and control when necessary.