Home Pest Control: Centipedes And Millipedes

Centipedes and millipedes may be annoying pests but are not dangerous. They can, however, invade your home when left untreated.

Centipedes and millipedes are seen commonly in yards and will occasionally enter homes or buildings. Although both of these may be annoying or a bit frightening, neither of them is considered to be a real threat to humans. They do not cause harm to any inside or outside structures nor do they consume our food. In spite of this, however, excessive rain, drought, or lack of their food supply can bring about mass migrations that may lead to home invasions.

Centipedes (Chilopods) have flattened bodies with many segments and around one hundred legs. At least one pair of legs is attached to each body segment. They vary in length from one to six inches and can move rather quickly when bothered. Their eyesight is poor and are frequently seen at night. Centipedes are considered to be carnivorous as they are known to feed on spiders and other insects. Even though centipedes may appear threatening, they are generally harmless to humans with exception to larger species which can inflict a painful and sometimes poisonous bite. Some people may experience an severe allergic reaction to its venom. For this reason, you should avoid handling any centipede. On average centipedes are associated with damp, dark places such as underneath leaves, rocks, bark, or mulch. On the other hand, the house centipede prefers the damp and high humidity areas found in basements, closets, bathrooms, and unexcavated regions under your home.

Millipedes (Diplopods) are more cylindrical with two pairs of legs attached to each body segment. They have thousands of legs but despite this, millipedes move slowly. Their bodies are adapted for burrowing instead of scurrying. Millipedes are also considered harmless, although they do coil up tightly if disturbed and secrete a foul-smelling fluid. These particular creatures often feed on damp and decaying wood, plant, and vegetable matter. As with centipedes, they are also most active at night and can be found under stones, flower pots, boards, or similar debris that is abundantly moist. Occasionally, millipedes will feed on living plant roots and developing fruits of cantaloupe or cucumbers. The affected plants will usually wilt and die. These pests are generally more troublesome in wooded or newly developed areas where decaying vegetation is more plentiful. They can, however, invade your home during wet seasons but usually die unless there is high moisture or a sufficient food source.

Centipedes and millipedes are not insects, but they are at times considered to be pests. They both live and breed in the same areas, but they each have different food sources. They typically become a nuisance when migrating and if left untreated they may infest your home and surroundings. Centipedes and millipedes are encouraged by wet conditions and controlling them involves both prevention and thorough treatment. Most common areas of invasion will occur alongside your home and in nearby mulch, compost or wood piles, and other moist locations. Knowing where to find these pests will make prevention and treatment easier. Centipedes and millipedes can be prevented from gaining access into homes and other structures by sealing any holes that might be around siding, windows, doors, or pipes. This can be done with caulking or weather stripping. They both require moist habitats and high humidity so it is important to keep your house and outside surroundings dry. Also keep trash, stones, old boards, leaves, grass clippings, and other debris away from your home. Removal of any thick mulch from your foundation and plants to allow drying will help reduce millipede problems. Dry conditions will make it difficult for them to feed and reproduce. Watering lawns and gardens later in the day will also promote more drying out time. If there is a continuing presence of house centipedes in your home, this could actually signal an underlying insect problem. You may want to check your home for spiders, roaches, and other insects. Eliminating centipedes is less difficult when you take away their chief food source.

Since centipedes and millipedes are not considered insects, most insecticides do not work well with controlling migrations. However, using residual insecticide sprays along cracks, entry points, and baseboards may help discourage activity. You will want to spray thoroughly around foundations as well as the sides of structures. Be sure to get around the windows, across doorways, and other openings. Also, pay attention to plants, shrubs, and trees. Spray around the trunks and ground surrounding plants. The wet powder formulation generally provides the best soil control. Water thoroughly after treatment of mulches to allow insecticide to penetrate deeper into the soil. This is usually where any millipede nests may be found and will help keep them from developing. When using any insecticides, take the necessary precautions and always read carefully and follow label directions.

While both centipedes and millipedes may seem unpleasant, they are not dangerous. Although centipedes can sometimes inflict nasty bites, overall, they are quite beneficial. They are good predators of soil-dwelling pests, spiders, and other insects. Millipedes do not bite but do occasionally snack on various plant parts. However, they too provide a valuable service by breaking down organic matter. The good deeds of centipedes and millipedes far outweigh their indiscretions, and control is generally not necessary unless their population during migrations is unusually high.

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