Although they are often confused with each other, millipedes and centipedes are two completely different pests. While both are classified as arthropods, the similarities end there. Which one is more dangerous to humans – millipede vs centipede?
Centipedes have bodies composed of many segments with one pair of legs on each segment. These long legs extend from the sides of their bodies and trail backwards behind them, making them very visible. These legs enable centipedes to move very quickly. They also have long antenna. Centipedes do have the capability to bite and are classified as predators, killing and eating their prey.
Millipedes, on the other hand, are the opposite. These arthropods have only 1 pair of legs on their first 3 body segments but then two pairs of legs for each body segment after those. Their legs are shorter and do not trail behind their bodies like centipedes do. These shorter legs make millipedes move much slower than their long-legged counterparts. Millipedes are also unable to bite. They are scavengers and do not kill prey to feed.
So which one is more dangerous? When millipedes are disturbed they will curl into a tight ball similar to a pill bug or “roly poly.” Since they are unable to bite, they emit a foul-smelling fluid that can cause irritation to the skin and eyes of humans if handled. Centipedes, on the other hand, will bite humans on occasion if they are disturbed. A centipede bite is similar to that of a bee sting, leaving behind a red bump that can swell, itch or sting. Despite these defensive mechanisms, neither millipedes nor centipedes are considered dangerous to humans or pets. Neither of these pests are known to transmit diseases or contaminate food, furniture, or plants either.
Although they aren’t considered harmful to humans, we still tend to be a little leery of their presence. You can prevent millipedes and centipedes by:
- Repairing any leaks and removing standing water from around your home. Remove any moisture-holding ground cover and organic material that is close to your home’s foundation. Moisture is necessary for the survival of both of these species.
- Store firewood away from the house and elevated off the ground. Inspect it for any pests prior to bringing it into your home.
- Seal any doors or windows that are low to the ground to help prevent easy entry into your home.
If you have a problem with millipedes or centipedes, contact your local pest control company who can help identify which of these pests you have, as well as help identify how they are getting into your home and the best method to eliminate them and prevent them from returning.