Location: Centipedes can be found in any state but are commonly found in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Legs: Between 15 and 177 pairs.
Size: Between 4 and 152 millimeters.
Color: Reddish orange or brown.
Most people don’t give much thought to centipedes until they find them in their homes. Centipedes, while small and seemingly innocuous, are actually venomous arthropods that can leave you with a painful and itchy bite and an infested home. Explore what centipedes are, what they look like, why you may have these creatures in or around your home, and tactics you can use to control or prevent a centipede infestation.
What Are Centipedes?
Centipedes are part of a predatory arthropod class known as Chilopoda, which also includes millipedes and other creatures with multiple legs. There are an estimated 3,150 species of centipedes throughout the world and four different orders of centipedes. Each class of centipede varies in leg segments and number of legs.
The most common type of centipede found in the United States is the house centipede. Other species of centipede found in North America include:
Giant red-headed centipede.
Many centipedes are venomous and can cause painful and itchy bites. They inject their venom via pincer-like appendages called forcipules. Most centipedes are carnivorous and eat soft-bodied insects such as worms, spiders, and even other centipedes. While they don’t feed on humans, they may bite you if you pick one up or accidentally step on one.
What Do Centipedes Look Like?
Each species of centipede varies in its appearance; however, most species share a few similarities. These similarities include a brown or reddish-orange color; a long, flat, and segmented body; a pair of antennae on the head; and claw-like structures used for paralyzing prey. Centipedes also have several legs that range from 15 to 177 pairs per arthropod.
More specific features of each common species found in the United States include:
Bark centipede: Reddish-brown body; yellow legs; one pair of legs per body segment; between 25 and 50 millimeters in size.
House centipede: Feathery leg appearance; black, yellow, and brown in color; dark line down the spine; fifteen pairs of legs, with each leg having a dark banding around it; 34 to 35 millimeters in size.
Cryptopid centipede: Reddish-brown body; large pincers; 10 to 65 millimeters in length.
Giant red-headed centipede: Several color combinations including orange, red, and black; noticeable red head; two long tails; 20 to 203 millimeters in size.
Scolopendrid centipede: Various colors including black, green, bluish-gray, and yellow; 13 to 57 millimeters in size.
Soil centipede: Red body; thin and fine legs; 5 to 195 millimeters in length.
Why Do I Have Centipedes In or Around My Home?
If you notice a centipede in your home, there’s a good chance that there are more where it came from. Here are a few reasons you may be experiencing a centipede infestation:
You have other pest infestations. Centipedes feed on other insects and soft-bodied creatures, so if you’re seeing centipedes in your home, there’s a good chance that there’s ample food to be had.
You have moisture problems. Centipedes love dark and damp areas. If you have areas that are damp and humid in your home, such as in your basement, under your sink, or in your bathroom, you run the risk of a centipede infestation.
You live in a cold climate or your location is experiencing cold weather. Centipedes, similar to ants and other small creatures, prefer to be indoors during cold weather. If centipedes have a way to access the inside of your home when it’s cold outside, this could be a reason why you’re experiencing an infestation.
You have areas outside of your home that make for good harborage. Centipedes are drawn to dark and closed spaces, such as woodpiles, foundation walls, and leaf piles. Performing an inspection of your exterior should give you a good idea of whether there are any attractive infestation areas where centipedes may stake a claim.
Centipedes won’t cause harm to your home; most people consider them more of a nuisance than an actual problem. But, having a centipede infestation does increase you and your family’s risk of experiencing centipede bites, which can leave behind painful bite wounds. Stepping on a centipede can also cause stains on your flooring, which could result in needed cleanings and/or flooring repairs.
What to Do If You’re Bit by a Centipede
While centipede bites can be a little painful, they rarely cause serious damage. Here are a few first-aid best practices to follow if you’re bit by a centipede:
Apply heat to the area where the bite occurred, or immerse the bite in hot water.
Use ice packs to reduce swelling.
Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug to reduce pain and inflammation. You can also take an antihistamine to prevent an allergic reaction.
Seek medical attention if you’re experiencing severe symptoms or your symptoms don’t improve in a few days.
Centipede Control and Prevention
If you’re worried about centipedes in and around your home, there are several things you can do to eradicate a current centipede infestation as well as prevent future ones:
Reduce any areas of moisture in and around your home. This includes repairing any current water leaks, installing good drainage systems, and using dehumidifiers.
Eliminate outdoor and indoor clutter. Centipedes often infest areas with lots of clutter, as these areas provide ample protection and a place to hide. Clean up any clutter outdoors, like yard waste, and indoors.
Regularly vacuum. If you have centipedes in your home, you can remove them by vacuuming regularly.
Take care of other pests. Eliminating any other pest infestations you have in your home is a good way to also eliminate centipedes.
Call a professional pest management company. Using a pest management service is a great way to prevent and treat centipede infestations. The service will likely perform an inspection first and then treat your home based on the findings.
Preventing centipede infestations can reduce the chances of you or your family experiencing painful bites and eliminate these pests in your living space. If you have questions about how to deal with centipede infestations, reach out to Bulwark Exterminating today.
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