You may have trouble spotting centipedes in your home because they’re nocturnal creatures that move at lightning speed. That’s easy to do if you have anywhere from 15 to 177 pairs of legs. If you want to amaze your friends, tell them that no centipede, despite its name, has 100 legs. The number of pairs is always odd.
Centipedes look something like worms with lots of legs and a pair of antennae. Their bodies are segmented. In color, they range from beige or pale yellow to dark brown. The most common North American varieties are only a few millimeters in length, however, the two most common in Southern Arizona – giant desert centipede and common desert centipede – are typically about 4 to 8 inches in length. Their two front limbs end in sharp claws that contain venom glands. Centipedes use these weapons to paralyze and kill prey. A centipede that manages to elude predators can live for up to six years.
Some species have compound eyes. Some have no eyes at all. In either case, they’re not known for good eyesight.
Centipedes breed in damp soil as temperatures climb in spring. In homes, they’re attracted to moisture and dark, secluded places. Areas that tend to stay damp, such as bathrooms, basements and kitchens, are their favorite hiding places. They forage all night for food, so it’s rare to see centipedes during the daytime.
Like many insects, centipedes do have their good qualities. For one, they eat smaller insects, spiders and other centipedes. When it comes to pest control, they do their part. Too, they're not messy like carpenter ants or bedbugs.
However, centipedes have an especially mean bite that causes significant pain and inflammation. Although there is no evidence that their venom is fatal to humans, victims with allergies or marked sensitivity have reported symptoms like swelling, nausea, fever, chills and weakness.
Their speed makes them good at eluding capture, but the challenge of corralling them is sometimes irresistible to children. Caution the kids to leave them alone. Handling a centipede rarely turns out well.
You can deter centipedes by addressing moisture problems. Clear wet leaves and damp wood from your property. Clean debris from your gutters. Compost, mulch and other damp organic materials should be located at least 6 inches from your foundation.
For complete peace of mind, call Bill’s Home Service Company. Since 1964, our family has been protecting homeowners, their kids, their pets and their investments in southern Arizona communities. Our technicians are experienced and courteous, and all the chemicals that we use are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Keeping the planet safe is part of our commitment to keeping families safe.
Centipedes and other pests have no place in your home. Call today for a thorough inspection of your property. We have effective solutions.