Centipedes are a type of predatory species that feed on other insects like spiders and flies. Feeding on other insects make classifies centipedes as a beneficial insect. However, when they invade homes they can become quite a nuisance for homeowners. Centipedes hide during the day in damp dark areas and come out at night to hunt. They have very poor sight and rely on touch and feel to find their prey.
Centipedes have a flat, long segmented body and range in color from yellowish-gray to darkish-brown. They have one pair of legs per body segment. Their name means ‘hundred leggers’, but depending on the species, they can have anywhere from between 15-177 legs. No matter how many pairs they have, the total number of legs will always be an odd number.
Centipedes have a pair of elongated mandibles, and two pairs of maxillae. The first pairs of their limbs (maxillipeds) end in sharp claws and contain venom glands that help the centipede to capture and paralyze its’ prey.
Centipede life spans all differ from species to species. Some live for one year, while others may live as long as 5 to 6 years. During the colder winter months they overwinter outdoors in logs, under rocks and mulch. If possible, they will also spend the winter months inside of homes. They reappear in the spring to mate and lay their eggs.
Hatchlings emerge from their eggs and develop fairly slowly over time. They go through several molts before they reach full maturity and adulthood. Generally these hatchlings look very similar to the adults, except that the have fewer legs.
Centipedes are usually a species that are found outdoors. They hide in damp dark places during the day. Often found under mulch, stones, logs, leaf piles and in vegetation. If conditions outside become too hot or dry they look to move indoors. Centipedes enter into homes and other buildings through cracks in foundations, gaps found under doors, and through the spaces found around utility entrances. Inside of homes they look for the same conditions that they live in outside. These dark damp areas inside are often crawl spaces, basements, closets, kitchen cabinets, and bathrooms.
Centipedes are a venomous species and do have the strength to bite through a person’s skin and inject their venom if they feel threatened. A centipede bite can be painful. Feeling similar to the pain of a bee sting. Generally however the venom is not powerful enough to cause any real issues for a human.
The best way to prevent centipedes from invading your home is to seal the areas around your home that may allow them to enter. Seal cracks in your home’s foundation, caulk gaps found around windows and doors, and seal openings around pipes or other utilities that enter into your house. In your yard make sure to keep gutters in working order so that moisture does not build up and attract centipedes. Make sure to remove piles of leaves, sticks, and other debris from your yard and try to keep a barrier between your home and organic material like mulch and wood piles.
It is also helpful to maintain a professional year-round pest control program to reduce the number of insects and other things that they use as food.
At Rottler we can help to prevent centipede invasions and other common household insects through our exterior perimeter treatments. Our trained technicians will apply residual insecticides to your home’s foundation walls, landscaping beds and other necessary areas to help eliminate problems with centipedes in and around your home.