Centipedes are a type of arthropod often mistaken for their cousins, millipedes. These pests thrive in a diverse array of environments, from the driest deserts to wet, humid forests. Determining whether you have a millipede vs centipede can be tricky. Both creatures have linked segments forming their bodies. Centipedes only have 1 set of legs per body segment and these legs are situated on the sides of their bodies. Millipedes, on the other hand, have 2 sets of legs per body segment and their legs are situated underneath their bodies. Centipedes have flatter bodies while millipedes have rounded bodies. Now that you know how to spot a centipede in your home, what attracts them in the first place?
There are 3 main things that attract centipedes to your home: food, environment, and protection.
Centipedes are nocturnal predators with voracious appetites. They can often be found wandering around at night in search of their next meal. Centipedes consume mostly other insects, including beetles, spiders, roaches, crickets, earthworms, bed bugs, silverfish, moths, flies, pill bugs, and even other centipedes.
To prevent centipedes from coming into your home, keep these other pests away. Routine pest control is a good place to start in keeping their food sources limited.
Different species of centipedes prefer different environments. While many centipedes prefer to live outdoors, others will make their way indoors. Inside your home, they are attracted to cool, dark, damp places that are rarely disturbed. They are attracted to moisture and can often be found near food sources. They like to hide out in cement block walls, boxes, clutter on the floor, floor drains, on or near plants, leaky faucets, leaking hoses, and broken gutters. They can get into your home through drains, holes, cracks, gaps, and poorly sealed doors and windows.
To keep centipedes from making your home theirs, you can eliminate standing water in your yard, fix drips and leaks including faucets and hoses, clean and repair gutters, clean up loose brush and other yard debris, and keep your home cleaned and decluttered, especially in areas that are not disturbed often.
Centipedes are overwintering pests, meaning they cannot survive in cold weather. Instead, they will make their way indoors in search of a warm, heated place to survive the winter months and to reproduce. Because they are attracted to moisture and need it to survive, they will also come indoors during periods of extreme drought in the summer, as well.
Keep centipedes out of your home during any season by sealing any gaps and cracks with caulk, using rubber stoppers on drains, and installing weatherstripping around doors and windows.
If you have a problem with centipedes or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for a thorough evaluation and treatment plan.
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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.
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Millipedes are arthropods (not insects) that are commonly found in damp, moist locations. They feed on decaying organic matter. Millipedes will usually hide during the day and come out at night when the humidity is higher and dew is present on the ground. Millipedes are often mistaken for centipedes – they have elongated, worm-like bodies with 2 pairs of legs on each segment of their bodies. They are usually about 1 inch long with a hard, round, cylindrical body that is brown to black in color. When they are disturbed or dead they will curl into a spiral.
Finding a millipede in the house is not common. They cannot reproduce indoors and usually only come inside when there is a period of extreme wetness (during the rainy season) or in search of somewhere to overwinter (usually in late Fall). Millipedes are most commonly found in gardens but when they do come indoors they are usually found in the garage, basement, or the lowest level of the home. Millipedes that wander indoors typically die in a short amount of time because of the dryness.
If a millipede does get into your home, are they helpful or harmful? Should you be concerned? Millipedes are NOT harmful to humans. They do not feed on buildings, structures, or furnishings. They also cannot bite or sting. In fact, they can be beneficial in your compost pile as they help to break down the contents. They can cause damage to your garden by destroying seedlings or feeding on vegetables; however, there is no need to eliminate them unless they are causing damage to your plants.
While a millipede infestation is rare, there are things you can do to help prevent these pests from getting into your garden or home. Here are some tips on how to get rid of millipedes:
- Eliminate moisture in garden areas where millipedes are often found or where their eggs can overwinter.
- Rake out any old mulch under plants and replace it with either fresh mulch or straw.
- Put piles of raked leaves into the compost pile away from your home or bag them for disposal.
- Aerate your lawn to reduce thatch.
- Move anything that could provide a habitat for millipedes away from your home (compost piles, firewood, stones).
- Elevate any of these items that cannot be moved.
- Install a band of gravel between foundations and flower beds.
- Seal any cracks in the outside foundation.
- Seal around the bottoms of doors and basement windows.
- Use a dehumidifier to decrease the humidity in your home.
- Water lawns in the morning so they can dry out by afternoon.
- Contact a licensed pest control company who can inspect your home for entry points and help set up a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
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