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Centipedes and Millipedes

Centipedes and Millipedes are distant relatives of lobsters, crayfish and shrimp. Unlike their marine cousins, centipedes and millipedes are land dwellers, but they do prefer moist habitats or areas of high humidity

centipedes and millipedes


They are usually considered nuisances rather than destructive pests. Centipedes pose an occasional threat to man because they have poison glands and will bite. Millipedes occasionally damage seedling plants by feeding on stems and leaves.

In general appearance, centipedes superficially resemble millipedes. However, there are important differences. Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment; millipedes appear to have two pairs on most segments. A centipede’s legs are usually quite prominent. Centipedes are far more active than millipedes, particularly the common house centipede. Most are flattened and elongated. They feed on small Insects and other arthropods

Centipedes usually are less common in homes than millipedes. However, they may be far more conspicuous, particularly the giant desert centipede that can reach 6 inches in length.

In homes, centipedes are found most frequently in the morning trapped in bathtubs or wash basins. They also may be seen darting for cover when a light is turned on in a dark room. Occasionally, a startled centipede may run at the person entering the room, giving the incorrect impression that it is attacking

Except for the largest species, centipedes cannot bite through skin, so hazard to humans is remote. Bites are extremely rare, because centipedes are light shy and bite only when being picked up or crushed. The bite of the largest species is reported to cause a sharp, temporary pain, similar to a bee sting.

Millipedes are dark brown and reach 1 to 1 1/2 inches when full grown. They are round and elongated, with many small legs. A common description is “little black worms crawling in the basement windows.” When dead or disturbed, they tend to curl into a tight coil.

Millipedes do not bite or pose any danger to humans. They feed on rotting organic matter such as leaves and wood and rarely feed on tender green leaves and roots. They spend almost all their time in moist areas, such as under rocks or logs and in lawn thatch.

centipedes and millipedes


Movement into houses often is sudden and sporadic. Most millipede movement takes place in September and October and again in midspring. Invasions, usually into cellars, often take place shortly after a period of wet weather and end as suddenly as they start.

millipedes require high moisture, they usually die in a home within a day or two. Chronic problems are associated with damp conditions. Measures taken to dry out moist areas usually are sufficient. The hard body of the millipede, however, remains intact for a considerable time after it is dead

Damages:When millipedes damage garden plants several practices can limit injury. Ripening fruit should be lifted off the soil, on mulch or other surfaces. Fruit that is overly ripe may be left in the garden to divert and concentrate feeding by millipedes. Similarly, millipedes can be concentrated under fruit rinds or moistened newspapers. The millipedes that are found at these sites can then be collected. Garden baits that contain carbaryl (Sevin) may also be used to control millipedes in gardens.

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