Centipede and Millipede Control
Centipedes and millipedes are those creatures with lots of legs that you see in dark, secluded parts of your basement. They’re actually “outside pests” who prefer dark, damp places such as leaf litter and other decaying organic matter, or under rocks and mulch. Usually they die on their own once they get into your home unless you have a moisture problem.
Despite their appearance and the fact that a lot of people are afraid of them, most centipedes and millipedes are harmless. The stings or bites of a few centipede species can be painful and cause swelling, however; and people who are allergic to insect stings may be more sensitive to centipede bites and stings.
Other than that, these pests are mainly annoyances. They don’t damage furnishings or homes and don’t infest stored foods. They’re ugly and they scare some people, but other than that, they’re relatively harmless.
Centipedes are many-legged animals and belong to a group of animals called Chilopods. They are usually brownish, flattened animals with many body segments. Most of the body segments have one pair of legs (which is one of the ways we distinguish them from millipedes).
Adult centipedes may vary in length from one to six inches and have one clearly-visible pair of antennae or “feelers” that are important sensory organs for them. They’re also fast runners: they make the best use of all those legs.
Centipedes have poorly developed eyes and are most active at night. They are active predators and feed mainly on insects and spiders. All centipedes have venom glands to immobilize their prey. The jaws of the smaller local species cannot penetrate human skin; however, the larger species may inflict painful bites.
Centipedes are usually associated with damp, dark places such as under stones, leaf litter, logs, bark or soil crevices. Indoors they may be found in closets and bathrooms where there is high humidity. Centipedes in a home may be a sign of a moisture problem that needs to be fixed.
Centipedes usually lay 15-55 eggs clustered together in the soil although the eggs of some species are laid singly. The eggs hatch soon after they are deposited. The female will usually guard the eggs and the newly hatched young. Young centipedes closely resemble the adults and require 3 years to mature. Centipedes are rather long-lived and individuals may live up to 6 years.
Millipedes are commonly known as “thousand leggers” and belong to a group of arthropods called Diplopods.
Millipedes are worm-like, cylindrical animals with many body segments. Most of the body segments bear two pairs of legs (unlike centipedes, who have only one pair of legs per segment). Millipedes tend to coil up tightly when disturbed and some species can secrete a foul smelling fluid.
Also unlike centipedes, millipedes feed on decaying vegetable matter and are often found under stones, flower pots, boards or similar debris where there is abundant moisture. Occasionally after rains or during cold weather, large numbers of millipedes may migrate into buildings. They can climb foundation walls and enter homes through any small opening.
These pests are generally more troublesome in wooded or newly developed areas where decaying vegetation provide excellent food and breeding conditions.
Female millipedes can lay from 20-300 eggs singularly or in clusters in the soil. The eggs hatch in a few weeks, and the young go through 7 to 8 stages before maturing to adults.
Centipede and Millipede Control
Control of centipedes and millipedes can usually be done non-chemically. It mainly consists of proper landscaping around a home (to facilitate drainage), avoiding organic mulches when possible, and sealing crack and crevices to prevent them from migrating into the house.
When non-chemical treatment isn’t enough, exterior treatment with low-toxicity insecticides can help control centipedes, millipedes, and other perimeter invaders.
For more information about centipedes, millipedes, and other occasional invaders, please contact us for a no-obligation consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.