Are centipedes a friend or foe?
- Where do they live?
- Identifying centipedes
- Eradicating centipedes
- Damage centipedes can do
Termite control can definitely fix your termite problems at home. They’re one of the most destructive pests that can live in your home, after all. With that said, your house can harbor many other pests if it’s not properly maintained.
One potential pest can crawl to you when you least expect it. Their legs skitter and slither across damp surfaces or your floor out of nowhere. But are these insects with legs for days, your friend or your foe? Let’s take a deeper look at house centipedes to see if they’re allies or just another pest you need to get rid of.
Where do they live?
Centipedes usually settle in warm and temperate climates — which means there’s most likely a centipede in your house right now. House centipedes, in particular, prefer damp and dark areas. Moisture inside your homes can attract these pests. You can find them in your basement, closet, and bathroom. They may even crawl out of your tub and sink. Centipedes who prefer to live outdoors usually settle in the ground where the conditions are damp. You can find them hiding within the compost, leaf piles, under stones, and boards. Centipedes are also light sensitive, so you won’t find your house centipede running around in the open.
You can easily spot a centipede by checking out their flat and elongated bodies. Centipedes are usually reddish-brown in color, and their bodies are divided into segments. Each segment has a pair of legs. The majority of centipede species usually have short legs, but you’ll find that house centipedes have very long legs. Contrary to popular belief, most centipedes don’t have 100 legs. It’s the illusion of their swift movements and distinct colors that give off the illusion of 100 legs.
The defining features of a centipede’s head are their mouth and a pair of multisegmented antennas. The first pair of legs is located below the mouth. These legs are modified to deliver venom to their prey when hunting and to predators as a defense mechanism. Centipede venom is harmless to humans, but if you happen to be bitten by a larger centipede, you can experience immense pain and irritation which can last up to seven days.
The house centipede’s colors include a grayish-yellow with three long dark stripes. The legs have distinct alternating dark and white bands. Their size also ranges from around 2.5 to 5 cm. The house centipede also has 15 pairs of legs that allow them to move very fast. This helps the house centipede actively hunt. They seek out their prey and use their legs to latch on to the victim or lasso them into submission. Some house centipedes also use their legs to beat their prey until they’re weak.
They hunt at night because of their developed eyes which grants them good vision. They use their eyes in conjunction with their long antenna to pick up smells, vibrations, and other physical sensations. They jump on their prey, sting them, and then use their legs to retreat temporarily. Once the venom has done the job, they dispatch the prey and move to feed.
Damage Centipedes Can Do
Centipedes can be your friend, but don’t trust that they won’t bite you when threatened. This is their natural form of defense. Even if you say that they’re only attacking other pests, they can still bite you. Some people are allergic to the venom of a house centipede. You can experience swelling, redness, and pain. For severe allergies, you can experience a rapid heart rate, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing. Centipede wounds can also get infected if you don’t clean it properly. If you experience any severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
To diminish the number of house centipedes you have at home, you need to start with the humidity of your house. Since they love humid conditions, you have to start creating a dryer environment so that they will be discouraged to stay. Try buying dehumidifiers and place them in dark, damp areas. Make sure to replace them every month so that the dehumidifiers stay fresh. If you find the centipedes outside, you can use insect sprays to control their population. Check the label of your bug spray for further directions and make sure to wear a respirator if you plan to use it inside.
Call your termite control or pest control service if you find that you have any pest infestations. Too many centipedes are already a sign of too many pests in your house, so be mindful when you encounter these leggy creatures.