Centipedes

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Centipedes are considered beneficial animals because they eat other household pests.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE CENTIPEDES?

  • Centipedes are easily seen in moist and protected environments, such as under rocks, leaf litter, and woodpiles.

  • Indoors, centipedes hide in cracks and crevices in walls.

  • Centipedes also hide under carpet edges and behind baseboards in the basement.

WHAT DO CENTIPEDES LOOK LIKE?

  • House centipedes (the common indoor species of centipedes) are grayish-yellow and usually marked with three dark longitudinal stripes visible from above.
  • Centipedes can grow to more than 1” in length.

  • Depending on the species, adults may have from 15 to 191 pairs of legs (Edgecombe and Giribet. 2007).

  • There is one pair of legs on each segment of a centipede’s body.

  • The legs are clearly striped.

  • Centipedes have a pair of antennae that extends forward from the head.

DO CENTIPEDES REALLY HAVE 100 LEGS?

  • Depending on the species, yes.

  • Though centipede means "one hundred legs," centipedes can have as few as 15 pairs of legs, or as many as 191 pairs.

  • Centipedes always have an odd number of leg pairs, so they never have exactly 100 legs.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CENTIPEDES AND MILLIPEDES?

  • Centipedes have one pair of legs per segment, while millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment.
  • Centipedes are predators of insects, spiders, and small animals; while millipedes are scavengers that eat decaying leaves, decaying plant matter, and some fungi.

ARE CENTIPEDES DANGEROUS?

  • Although not considered dangerous, centipedes can deliver a painful “pinch”, especially when handled.

  • Centipedes do not really bite; they inject venom from modified claws found in their front legs.

  • The injected venom of centipedes is not usually fatal. It causes a slight swelling and irritation similar to that of a bee or wasp sting.

CAN MY HOUSE BE DAMAGED BY CENTIPEDES?

Despite their "fearful" appearance, centipedes cause no structural damage to your home and do not contaminate food.

WHY ARE CENTIPEDES IN MY HOUSE/YARD?

  • During cold weather, adult centipedes overwinter in protected places.

  • Centipedes can survive indoors, especially in damp, moist basements, cellars, bathrooms, crawlspaces or unexcavated areas under the house.

  • Centipedes usually gain access via holes and cracks in the foundation walls or by crawling under door gaps.

  • Centipedes become active during spring and live outdoors in damp and shaded areas.

  • During the summer, centipedes may enter buildings seeking shelter, where they become a nuisance pest.

WHAT DO CENTIPEDES EAT?

  • Centipedes feed on small creatures, such as bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, spiders, and other household insects, and even small animals.

  • Centipedes bite with their modified front legs.

  • The centipede’s front pair legs are pointed, fanglike appendages called forcipulates, which connect to poison glands on the first body segment immediately behind the centipede’s head.

  • Centipedes use their forcipulates to pierce their prey’s skin and then inject venoms into the cut; paralyzing the prey.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF CENTIPEDES?

  • After mating, females usually lay their eggs in the soil or in rotting wood.

  • Some species curl around the eggs to protect and clean them. Other species cover the eggs with dirt and leave them alone.

  • Eggs hatch into larvae, which have four pairs of legs.

  • Every time the larvae molt, the number of legs increases.

  • The common house centipede can live for more than a year, while other species have been known to live for up to 6 years.

8 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CENTIPEDES:

  • Centipedes are not insects; centipedes are arthropods. In order to be considered an arthropod, the animal must be an invertebrate with an exoskeleton (external skeleton), a segmented body, and jointed appendages.

  • Centipedes groom themselves. After a meal, centipedes use their forcipulates to clean each leg from base to tip, in order. If a leg is missing, the centipede will still try to clean it in its correct order

  • Centipedes are mostly nocturnal hunters

  • Centipedes hunt their prey by leaping upon it or using their back legs in a technique described as "lassoing."

  • Centipedes are fast and can reach speeds of 16 inches per second.

  • Centipedes can regenerate lost legs.

  • Centipedes have poor eyesight. In fact, some centipede species don't even have eyes.

  • Centipedes detect prey through their antennae.