Centipedes in small numbers can help control the populations of pests like spiders and cockroaches, but a centipede infestation can quickly become a nuisance. The best way to treat an infestation is to prevent it in the first place, but professional insect control specialists do have methods of eliminating them if they become problematic.
What Are They?
Centipedes belong to a class of insects known as arthropods, and this is just a fancy way of saying that they have segmented bodies and an exoskeleton. They feed primarily on soft-bodied insects and have a single fang that is used to inject venom and immobilize the prey. Afterward, they use their strong jaw muscles to consume the spider or worm, though they will also consume other centipedes. Another interesting fact is that they can live for up to six years which is a very long time in the insect world.
Where Do They Live?
Centipedes can be found anywhere, whether in deserts, forests, or bustling cities. In fact, the species found in the United States are some of the largest in the world. The house centipede, however, which is the most common pest, is generally found in moist or damp areas. They tend to breed outdoors in areas such as leaf litter, rocks, and piles of bricks, compost, and even mulch used in flowerbeds. Preventative pest control against indoor infestation, it is best to keep these stockpiles far from the foundation of the residential or commercial property and ensure that all cracks in the foundation itself are sealed.
Are They Dangerous to Humans?
Centipedes are not aggressive and will usually scamper away when uncovered or when suddenly inundated with bright light; however, when agitated, the larger species can deliver a painful bite. Most bites occur while gardening and while the venom that is injected is considered harmless, there is some risk for allergic reaction. Despite the lack of real danger, these bites can cause extreme pain, swelling, and discoloration. To avoid being bitten, centipedes should not be handled. It should also be noted that some species’ fangs are too small to penetrate human skin. The house centipede, which is the most common, can deliver bites as adults.
Getting Rid of Them
The best way to handle a centipede infestation is to prevent it in the first place and there are several ways to do this. Since the insects prefer humid and damp locations, sealing up any foundation cracks and installing a dehumidifier can help to eliminate their preferred environment. If an infestation is suspected, an exterminator will sometimes set sticky traps to gauge the size and location of the population before using any kind of pesticide to eliminate them. The exterminator should also treat the exterior of the home around the perimeter of the foundation with a residual insecticide.
Although actual centipede infestations are rare, they can and do occur from time to time. Bear in mind that it is normal to see a centipede or two in the home from time to time and this does not necessarily indicate infestation. A professional insect control company can often determine the best course of action for these pests quickly depending upon their species and numbers.