Centipedes (“100 feet” in Latin) are arthropods—members of an invertebrate class that includes insects, spiders, and crustaceans. All centipedes belong to the class Chilopoda, which includes about 3,300 different species. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they have the greatest diversity in shape and configuration in warm and tropical environments. Most centipedes are adapted to burrowing and live in soil or leaf litter, under the bark of trees, or beneath stones.
Centipede bodies are made up of six head segments (three of which are mouthparts), a pair of poisonous maxillipeds (“foot jaws”), a variously numbered series of truck-bearing leg segments, and two genital segments. Their heads have two antennae and a varying number of paired compound eyes (called ocelli), though some cave-dwelling species are blind.
Each legged segment is made up of an upper and lower shield covered by a cuticle and separated from the next segment by a flexible membrane. Centipedes periodically shed their cuticles, which allows them to grow. Their body length ranges from 4 to 300 millimeters (0.16–12 inches), with most species measuring between 10 and 100 millimeters (0.4–4 inches).
How Do You Get Rid of Centipedes?
The Dangers of Centipedes
Centipedes are predators that hunt insects both indoors and out. Only one variety, the house centipede, is capable of reproducing and establishing populations inside, the rest may wander in by sheer accident but don’t do any damage in the process.
In general, centipedes don’t pose any danger to humans. They can and will bite if they’re severely aggravated, however, and the toxin they inject can cause a reaction in a small number of people who happen to be allergic to it. Otherwise, the pain level is similar to a bee sting and is used as a weapon of last resort for the centipede.
How to Prevent Centipedes from Entering Your Home
The best way to prevent centipedes from entering your home is to seal up cracks and holes near the ground level, where it’s easy for them to simply walk in.
How to Get Rid of Centipedes Outside
If you’re looking to get rid of outdoor centipedes, your first move is to look at the environment. Are there lots of places for the creatures to hide, like piles of rocks or wood, or thick mulch? Is there moisture collecting in the problematic area? If so, removing these items may be all you have to do to eliminate the centipedes.
How to Get Rid of Centipedes Inside
House centipedes eat pest insects that carry disease, like cockroaches, and generally stay out of sight due to their shy nature. Sticky traps are helpful in detection of insect pests, especially those that run around at night after the lights go off.
Natural Centipede Remedies
Along with sealing up cracks to ensure they don’t re-enter your home and reducing indoor humidity to make it less habitable for them, you can simply collect the centipedes you see and deposit them outdoors. Sweeping them into a dust pan will reduce your risk of bites.
If your problem is house centipedes, which move more quickly than outdoor centipedes, you may find you need a little extra help. Cats are excellent centipede hunters and are often active at the same time the centipedes are.
If you spot house centipedes in one spot regularly, check for leaks and other moisture sources, since they are drawn to higher humidity areas. Make the necessary repairs right away to reduce risk of damage to your home.
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Hadley, D. (2020, January 9). Fascinating Facts About Centipedes. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/fascinating-facts-about-centipedes-1968228
Waterworth, K. (2022, March 14). How Do You Get Rid Of Centipedes. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/pest-control/get-rid-of-centipedes/