– Chilopoda –

Contact person:     Dr. Karin Voigtländer

Institution:             Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz

E–Mail:                   karin.voigtlaender(at)senckenberg.de

Internet:                 Senckenberg Section Myriapoda


Chilopoda (centipedes), together with Diplopoda and the often neglected Pauropoda and Symphyla, belong to the myriapod Antennata (Myriapoda). Worldwide currently 3,000 species, and in Central Europe more than 500 species of Chilopoda are known. Generally all Chilopoda are furtive, hygrophilic and predatory soil organisms.

Chilopoda are commonly found in leaf litter, deadwood and also on tree trunks. They are nocturnal invertebrate predators, feeding on, e.g., springtails (Collembola), worms, plant lice and insect (dipteran) larvae. Chilopoda show almost no preference for certain rock or soil types, but are more influenced by prey availability and microclimate conditions (vegetation cover, humus form). The strongest preference for certain soil types is found in the euedaphic Geophilomorpha.

Thus, Geophilomorpha are more suitable as indicators for soil conditions than the epedaphic Lithobiomorpha. However, the high biological indicatory importance of this animal group predominantly emerges at the community level, i.e., species composition and their changes in time and space can indicate changes in the local soil structure.