Latin Name Chilopoda
Description Centipedes are long, multi-segmented arthropods. They come in a range of colors and number of legs. All centipedes, no matter the number of legs they possess, share the common trait of having a pair of legs to each body segment, largely drab coloration and modified front appendages that produce venom.
Centipedes do not have the same outer protection that other insects and arachnids do, and so require a non-arid habitat to retain their bodies’ moisture. Centipedes have a round, flat head with antennae and elongated jaws. Only rarely do centipedes have true “eyes.” Centipedes are the only arthropods that have a set of modified front legs found just behind the head that contain venom and assist the centipede in catching, restraining and consuming prey.
What to Know Centipedes have a very large area of habitation, including parts of the Artic circle where other pest insects are not common. They are found in areas from rainforests to deserts. There are up to 8,000 species of centipede in the world and Centipedes are some of the largest invertebrate predators on land. They have a direct-line digestive tract in the form of a simple tube and breathe like most insects through a tracheal system. Centipedes do not breed like mammals, instead the male leaves a “spermatophore” and the female then picks it up to fertilize her eggs at a later time.
As predators, centipedes require areas with large amounts of prey to live. They hunt using their antennae and capture their prey with a combination of quick reactions and venom. Centipedes have adapted to eat a great many types of prey, though they will, on occasion, eat plant matter. Centipedes are mainly nocturnal and are most active at this time or in a dark environment. Their exact diet, according to scientists, is generally anything softer, slower and smaller than themselves. Centipedes are themselves prey to a great many other animals.
Signs of Infestation Because centipedes are a predatory species of arthropods, they can prove beneficial to homeowners because they prey on other pests such as cockroaches. A good sign of centipede infestation may actually be the presence of their prey combined with a moist environment. As with most of the more evasive pest species, it is hard to tell if there is a centipede infestation without seeing one. Areas of the house that are dark, moist and rarely disturbed are a haven for these light-shy creatures.
Treatment and Prevention Like termites and other pests, centipedes are attracted to moist environments such as those created by a leak in the home. Because of their non-waxen outer layer, centipedes, in fact, are more likely to be found in damp areas than some other types of pests. Other areas that might be prone to centipede infestations are those that harbor a multitude of cracks and dark crannies where they might hide, such as foundations and basements.
Because their preferred habitat is dark, secluded and moist, the first part of preventing centipede infestations is identifying where they might be located. Centipedes are likely to come into the home initially in search of prey or hiding places, but because of the many opportunities for both, they may stay. Treatment often involves finding the areas in which the centipedes are hiding and securing them. Prevention of a centipede infestation involves making the home less inviting, such as making sure that the dirt around the foundation slopes away from the house. Lowering the humidity can also be helpful.
If you’re finding more and more centipedes throughout your home, call now.