Centipedes are creepy and startling arthropods with long, segmented bodies and many legs, and they invade our homes during warm weather. These wormlike critters belong to the phylum Arthropoda alongside insects and spiders, but they are solely grouped in class Chilopoda. 

Although centipedes are often confused with millipedes, there are some features unique to centipedes that can be used to differentiate between the two. Centipedes have flattened bodies and have one pair of legs in every segment. Their legs extend backward, allowing them to move more rapidly than millipedes. 

All centipedes are venomous and use their jaws to inject venom into their prey. They will defend themselves against humans by inflicting occasional painful bites, but their jaws are usually not strong enough to pierce your skin. 

Identifying Centipedes

As mentioned before, centipedes are a close relative to Millipedes, and they share quite a few traits that can make identification confusing. However, centipedes do have some distinct characteristics that can help distinguish them from millipedes. The main difference between the two is that a Centipede has one pair of legs in each segment while a millipede has two pairs of legs in every segment. Other features you can use to identify centipedes include:

Color: Most common colors are brown, yellow, or reddish-orange.

Size: They measure between 1 to 12 inches or more, depending on the species.

Bodily Features: Centipedes have flat and elongated bodies with a pair of legs in each segment. They can have 10 to 100 legs, and some species can have even more than that.  Their heads have a pair of long antennae, and their mouths have large jaws that carry their venom. Most centipedes are nocturnal carnivores. 

Habitat: These creatures hide in damp, dark, and hidden areas like under rocks or logs. House Centipedes can be found in moist areas of your home, such as the kitchen or bathroom. 

Diet: Most Centipedes are carnivorous and feed on insects like cockroaches, earwigs, silverfish, spiders, and other critters. 

Are Centipedes Dangerous?

Although centipedes are venomous, their mandibles are rarely strong enough to break human skin. They use venom to kill their prey and fight predators. When disturbed, they occasionally inflict painful bites on humans, but their poison isn’t lethal to human beings. Those allergic to centipede bites may experience an allergic reaction, but there’s no record of anyone getting seriously sick from their bites. 

With all of that said, they’re still a nuisance and potentially very large pest to have in your home, and it can be quite startling to see them running across the floor at night.   

How to Prevent and Control Centipedes

Centipedes will usually only get into your house in search of shelter and food. Here are ways to help keep them out of your home:

  • Reduce moisture by repairing leaks and dehumidifying your house.
  • Get rid of any clutter that would offer them a cool, dark place to hide.
  • Seals holes, gaps, and cracks on the walls, windows, and doors. Keep all doors and windows shut unless they have screens. Centipedes are usually a bit bigger than your typical pest and therefore will need a larger access point; seeing them in your home can indicate sealing issues.
  • Stuff weep holes in the foundation with a sturdy metal mesh, such as copper or steel.
  • Keep other insects that may be a potential food source for centipedes away from the home.

If you discover that you already have centipedes infesting your yard and home, we recommend giving a pest control specialist a call. A centipede infestation can mean that you have other pests issues around your home that the centipedes are using as a food source, but the knowledgeable professionals at Domain Pest Control can help!

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