The name centipede means verbatim “100 legs”, but this is not exactly true. These arthropods can have between as little as 15 to as many as 171 pairs, but it is always an odd number. Commonly compared to millipedes, centipedes stand out with one pair of legs per body segment, while millipedes have two pairs of legs. Centipedes are different than other insects because they continue to grow as adults, unlike other insects that reach full growth by adulthood. Centipedes also have an incredible lifespan for insects, living two to five years. Throughout a centipede’s lifetime, they can grow even more legs. Centipedes are quick, agile, nocturnal animals with poor eyesight, so they rely on their dense hairs to detect their prey.
Centipede Behavior, Habitat & Diet
Prone to dehydration, centipedes love moisture and dwell in moist environments, such as under leaf litter or in rotting wood. If centipedes lack moisture, they become dehydrated and may delay movement until the environment is wet again.
Primarily carnivorous, centipedes prey on soft-bodied insects, cockroaches, silverfish, earwigs, spiders, worms, and other arthropods, including even their own kind. Centipedes are covered with dense hairs, which allow them to spot their prey.
Centipedes maintain a predatory nature, and depending on the species, can be venomous. Smaller centipedes may bite and create only a stinging reaction, similar to a bee sting, while larger centipedes have a venomous bite that can cause extreme pain. However, centipede bites are not fatal to humans. In extreme cases, centipede bites may cause secondary medical symptoms, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety.
Centipede Prevention & Treatment:
Signs of a centipede infestation or over-population are spotting the centipedes themselves. They are not likely to feed off wood, unlike millipedes, which are herbivores and detritivores, which feed off dead and decaying plants, wood, and cellulose material.
Since centipedes feed off soft-bodied insects, the first step to controlling a centipede population is ridding their food source. For example, identifying other pests around and inside the house is most important. It is best to contact your pest control specialist to positively identify the insects and properly treat the entire centipede infestation, including their food source insect foes.