While centipedes are fine to spot outdoors, you do not want to see them inside. Get to know the biology and control methods of this insect so you can get rid of them and keep them away.
Biology of Centipedes
Centipedes have many segments, between 15 and 173 segments in total. Each segment has a single pair of walking legs. In terms of appearance, centipedes are flattened dorso-ventrally. Among the various non-flying arthropod predators, they are one of the most agile and fastest. Centipedes are predators for small arthropods, including spiders, cockroaches, carpet beetle larvae, silverfish, and firebrats. The adult house centipede typically has 15 body segments and 15 pairs of legs. On females, the final pair is about twice as long as the body. This body is between one and one and a half inches long. Factoring in the final pair of legs, this means that adult female centipedes can appear to be between three and four inches if you also count their antennae.
The legs of centipedes have dark and light bands. Their body has a dirty yellow color and features three dark stripes running longitudinally. When newly hatched, the centipede larvae have just four sets of legs. This number increases during their five larval molts, going to five pairs then growing by two pairs with each molt. Before reaching maturity, centipedes go through six larval molts or instars and four instars following the larval stage. Female centipedes can survive for several years, producing up to 150 offspring.
Why Centipedes Are Considered Pests
Although centipedes are very venomous, their venom does not affect humans, so this is not a concern. It is possible, however, to be allergic to the insects, in which case they can cause a severe allergic reaction that is life-threatening. Furthermore, it is rare that centipedes will bite. If they do, humans are likely to experience either no symptoms or localized and temporary pain. In addition to the possibility of an allergic reaction to a centipede bite, it is also possible for the bite to get infected. Those are almost the only situations, however, when a centipede bite represents a serious risk to humans. The big issue with centipedes is their ability to get into the home and hide. They will frequently take cover underneath concrete slabs, inside cement block walls, in floor drains that do not have water traps, in or under cardboard boxes sitting on slabs, and any other damp and cool location, including the crawlspace. Although centipedes do not necessarily carry any actual threats to people in a home, they are still pests since the average homeowner does not want them there but they can be annoying to get rid of. If you were to just squash a centipede when you see it, you may end up with stains.
Methods for Controlling Centipedes
It is important to understand that there is not just one type of centipede and the specific steps you should take to control them will vary slightly based on the type of arthropod you are dealing with. Because of this, the best professionals will start centipede control with an inspection of your home. This will let them pinpoint the specific type of centipede as well as the areas they are most likely to be hiding. Based on that information, professionals will create a treatment plan to control the centipedes in your home and prevent others from entering. Most treatment plans for controlling centipedes will involve chemical solutions combined with non-chemical methods. The emphasis is always on figuring out how the centipedes got inside and where in your home they are.
Part of the treatment that professionals will assist you with is controlling the population of other insects in your home. Since centipedes feed on spiders and other insects, if those pests are present, they will attract the centipedes. Removing those pest insects can reduce the number of centipedes on your property and will also solve the issue of dealing with those insects. The pest control professionals will also give you advice on how to make minor adjustments to your home to further discourage centipedes. For example, they can pinpoint areas with moisture or spots with too much clutter that make great hiding spots for the insects.
Although there are exceptions, most chemical methods of controlling centipedes are designed for temporary control. There are longer-term options available as well. Depending on the severity of your centipede infestation and the location of the insects, the pros may apply the insecticides both inside and outside. Outdoor areas that will be targeted can include gaps or cracks in your foundation, mulch surrounding your home, and spots in the crawl space. Always remember to be careful when using chemicals to control centipedes due to the risk to humans and pets. Control of centipedes will also likely include the use of monitors or sticky traps for insects. These are a useful method of identifying the centipedes and other insects in your home. They can also give you an idea of about how many centipedes are present and where in the building they are.
DIY Tips of How to Get Rid of Centipedes
You will also need to combine the chemical control methods that professionals use for centipedes with some non-chemical approaches of your own. Centipedes are attracted to moisture so you should start by reducing any moisture issues by using a dehumidifier and repairing your water leaks. You should also take the time to reduce clutter in your home as this provides a convenient hiding spot for centipedes. Reducing clutter includes removing items that are stacked right on the floor or leaning against a wall. Regular vacuuming can also help; you can even use the vacuum to remove centipedes if you do not want to have to touch them. Controlling centipedes yourself should also always involve sealing up the method that the centipedes used to get inside in the first place. Other insects can also get in via the same cracks, gaps, and holes, so be sure to thoroughly inspect your home and seal up those spots. You should also confirm that your windows and doors shut flush and repair them if not.
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