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Centipedes: A Friend Or Enemy?


You have to admit, there are some of you who cannot stand centipedes. Well, it can be understood because spotting a centipede outdoors can be as creepy as spotting a cockroach or a rat. There is a lot of squabbles regarding centipedes being a friend or foe. Some people say that centipedes can be very harmful to the environment. Some say otherwise. In this segment, we will be discussing if centipedes are our environmental enemy or a friend. Before anything else, let's have a quick overview of centipedes.

Facts About Centipedes

Centipedes may be icky, but they can be quite interesting too. Centipedes are characterized to have long, flattened bodies. They can grow up to 1 inch to 1 and 1/2 inches. Their body color ranges from yellow to yellowish-brown with dark stripes along the top of their body. Some centipedes are found to have an even lighter shade. Some, darker.  

Even though we cannot see it sometimes, centipedes have eyes too. In fact, they have large, well-developed eyes. They belong in the family of arthropods. In their case, they have 15 segments, each of which features one pair of legs each. The legs of a centipede are long, slender, thread-like, and have black and white bandings. For females, their last pair of legs is more than twice as long as the body. Here are a few more interesting facts about centipedes:

  • They Have A Very Wild Diet

Centipedes feast wildly on spiders, bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, ants, and many other pests. This is a very good thing considering that these creatures pose a great nuisance in households. Centipedes are one of the members of the ecosystem that balances the occurrence of pests. So, icky as they look, they can contribute wonders to our environment.

  • Centipedes Are Also Winter Pest

Despite the wonders they do for our environment, they too can pose a nuisance to our homes. Did you know that they, too, are common winter pests? They cannot survive the cold outdoors. For this reason, they infest homes and other structures for warmth. Just like cockroaches, centipedes prefer to live in humid places such as the bathroom and the kitchen. 

  • They Don't Really Have 100 Legs

Despite the fact that their name "Centipede" means one hundred legs in Latin, they can have significantly more or less 100legs. Depending on the type of centipede, they can only have 15 pairs of legs. Some can even have 191 legs in total. You might not believe this, but what if I told you that there are centipede species that can have over 191 pairs of legs. I wonder what it would look like.  Centipedes are commonly mistaken with millipedes. Do you want to know how to differentiate? Millipedes are known to have two pairs of legs on most of its body segments. However, a centipede always has a single pair of legs per segment. If you are not sure what you have found, just count the number of pairs on one segment and you will be good to go! 

  • Centipedes Are Arthropods

Their family includes spiders and crustaceans. Centipedes are a member of the class Chilopoda. This class includes more than 3,300 different species. Just like termites, these creatures can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Did you know that centipedes have the greatest diversity in shape and structure in warm and tropical environments? Most centipedes are known for burrowing themselves in soil or litter. Sometimes, they can be found under the barks of trees, even beneath stones. The bodies of centipedes include 6 head segments. Three of which are used as mouthparts and it functions for capturing and eating their prey. 

  • Centipedes Are Poisonous

Did you know that they have a pair of maxillipeds on their body? This is also known as "foot jaws." They use it to inject a poisonous venom on their prey's body so it would not squirm as much anymore in the process of eating. The venom of each centipede depends on its species and its environment. Given that the centipede lives in more hostile environments, its venom would also adapt to become stronger. But the common household centipedes who feed on typical insects have a weaker venom. 

There are no recorded cases of deaths from a centipede bite. But you should never experiment on it. You never know if you are allergic to these creatures or not. If you ever find that your home or your garden is starting to get infested with centipedes call for pest management near Huntersville, NC.  Luckily, there is a company near that area that can do a quick check-up on your whole house. Lake Norman Home Services has been providing quality pest control for more than 50 years. The best people to call are the exterminators of this company. They will not only offer affordable prices for elimination but for prevention as well. 

  • The Number Of Legs A Centipede Has Changes Throughout Their Lives

Their legs play a much greater role than just running. Every time a centipede finds itself in a very compromising position as in the grip of a bird or other predator, it can easily escape by sacrificing a pair or two of its legs. When this happens, the bird is left only with the centipede's legs. The clever centipede finally makes a very cunning escape on the legs that remained.  Centipedes moult continuously until they reach adulthood. Another interesting thing about these creatures is that they can usually repair their damaged body by simply regenerating its new set of legs. It is likely to find some centipedes with a few legs shorter than the others. This is because of their ability to regenerate from a predator attack.

  • People Keep Centipedes As Pets 

Centipedes can be aggressive. They are extremely venomous, and potentially dangerous for humans, especially for children. A Centipede bite can cause damages to the human skin. It includes bruising, blisters, inflammation, and gangrene.  If you intend to keep centipedes as pets, use glass or acrylic habitats so they cannot climb and run away. Also, remember to put a secure lid. But make sure that they have enough space to breathe. Centipedes require a humidity of 70 per cent. The rainforest species, however, need more. For this, you need several tools to make your hobby successful. 

Make sure that the temperate remains between 20 and 25 C (68–72 F), in tropical areas between 25 and 28 C (77–82.4 F). This is exactly the way they want it.  If you do not see your centipede during daylight. Do not panic! They might just be hiding somewhere or burrowing their bodies. They are night creatures. They often hunt during the night. Did you know that the centipedes who live in caves are blind? Well, not totally blind. Their eyes can detect movement despite the dark. they have the ability to enhance the refraction of light to enlighten them on their hunt. 

But if you ask me, I would not keep a centipede pet, especially where there are children. You know how kids can be, they are very curious and inquisitive. Who's to assure that they will not bother the centipedes while we are gone or while we are asleep? See, the immune system of children are still pretty weak compared to us adults. Their lymphocytes are not yet very much introduced to different kinds of bacteria, pathogens, and toxins. If they get bitten by a centipede, there is a huge possibility that the bite could be fatal to them. 

How To Eliminate Centipedes

There are certain ways to consider before you eliminate centipedes from your home. As we have discussed, these creatures can be very dangerous because of their venom. So, do not approach them with your bare hands. Here are some of the preliminary steps to do to eliminate centipedes for good. 

  • Conduct A Monthly Or Weekly Inspection

Schedule a certain time frame every month for a complete inspection of your entire home. Check for any crevice, fissures, broken shingles, or any hole where pests can enter. You can seek assistance from your local pest specialist to do the investigation for you. They can perform a thorough examination to confirm the sources of the centipede population. 

  • Set Traps

You can use adhesives to trap crawling centipedes. We have discussed that these creatures feed on common pests such as ants, cockroaches, spiders, bed bugs, and many more. If you intend to trap them you might as well use them as bait. Place the adhesive traps where there is pest activity and wait. Another advantage of this method is, you will be eliminating more than centipedes. You can also target roaches along with it. 

  • Keep Your Home Neat & Tidy 

Since centipedes are attracted to pests, you might as well remove their point of interest. One way to do this is to keep your house clean and tidy. Avoid leaving clutters anywhere in your area because it is a good attractant to different kinds of pests. It also pays off to vacuum regularly, sweep, and wipe in areas that need cleaning. responsible housekeeping will always be the best key to prevent any insect infestation.