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A centipede is an arthropod from the class of chilopoda. They are elongated insects with lots of legs. "Centi-" is Latin for 100, and "-pede" refers to legs, but centipedes actually have 15-177 legs. Each segment of its body has a pair of these legs. Centipedes are long, narrow, and nearly always flattened. The first pair of legs form claw-like poison fangs, while the last pair merely face backwards. First instars (stages) have only 4 segments, but acquire more with each molt.
One of the most common centipedes you are likely to find in your home is the common house centipede. They look rather intimidating with their many long legs. They are proficient hunters and are known to attack their prey - but they prefer to eat insects and not bite people. In fact, many find house centipedes to be very beneficial to have around because they are know to eat pest bugs including other arthropods, smaller insects and arachnids.They prefer to live in cool, damp places which is why they are often found in basements, bathrooms and other areas of the house.
Centipedes prefer dark, damp secluded places, such as under boards, stones, piles of litter, under logs, or under bark and in crevices in damp soil. Indoors, they can be found in moist basements or closets.
They feed on other small insects, spiders, and sometimes may go for a plant (if they get the urge). They get most of their daily liquids from their prey.
All centipedes do bite, but they very rarely bite people. The Giant centipede (scolopendra gigantea), located in South America and parts of the Caribbean, however, is known to be very aggressive and nervous. They are very likely to bite when handled, and they are also known to be very poisonous.
In North America, most centipedes are harmless. They are more interested in eating other insects than they are in trying to bite people. Of course, any creature that is disturbed from its habitat or handled could potentially bite, so it is not recommended that you pick up or bother any centipede.
Centipedes love the nightlife. That's when they like to hunt. Another active period: summer. This is when females lay their eggs, in or on the soil. One type can lay 35 eggs over a few days. Adults can live a year, and some up to 5 or 6 years.
Some centipedes are. However, the centipedes located in North America are generally not poisonous and do not pose a risk to people. Tropical climates where the Giant centipede is more common, you are more likely to run into species that are poisonous and even more aggressive and likely to bite.
All those feet are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do - right into your damp bathroom, closet, basement or potted plant.
Luckily this insect is only an 'occasional invader' into our homes and businesses. To help control this insect, apply residual materials around the outside of the building. Clean up accumulated leaves and debris and create an 18-inch vegetation-free zone around the foundation. Check doors that may need weather stripping along the bottom to prevent these insects from entering. Inside areas may need to be treated, but the source will be the exterior, so control should be focused there. You can vacuum to remove insects in lieu of a pesticide application. If you attempt to control these insects and make an application, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location.
Control with applications of liquid residual pesticides, baits or dusts. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions, and precautions.
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