Nov 5, 2012 – Adapted to the Dry


On rare occasions I am confronted by clusters of centipedes. My question is how in this usually very dry climate (Nevada) do these moisture loving insects appear, seemingly out of nowhere? Secondly, are they always present and are just waiting for some moisture like a pipe leak to make their presence felt?


I think the answer lies in the fact that every habitat has its occupants, and many kinds of centipedes have adapted to life in very dry environments. However, they still have a problem retaining body moisture, as their exoskeleton may be more porous than that of most other arthropods, so they will be nocturnal to avoid sunlight and the hot daytime and they will hind in dark places where, hopefully, there is some level of moisture to help them out. 

You did not go into details on exactly where you are finding these cluster of centipedes. Are they someplace indoors or are they under objects on the ground outside? Why you would suddenly find groups of them in one location is a good question, and since I can't think like a centipede we just have to guess at the answer. Perhaps that place where you found them presented the coolest place around with the highest level of moisture, and that drew them to the same location. Perhaps there is some relatively abundant food resource in that area and following the nocturnal banquet they all withdrew to the nearest available harborage. 

I would guess that centipedes, at some level, are always present but are hiding really well. The axiom "Nature hates a void" means that available space is going to get occupied by living organisms around it, and if other insects and appropriate hiding places exist then the predatory bugs are going to discover it and hang around until those resources run out. Certainly a water leak could increase the attractiveness of a place, as well as attract other insects that like the moisture and could serve as food for predators like spiders and centipedes. Another great reason to manage excessive moisture problems. 

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