Among all of Florida’s pests, centipedes are up there among the most unsettling of creepy crawlers. This is mostly due to their numerous legs and ability to move very quickly. The name suggests that all of these pests have 100 legs, but that number can actually range from about 15 to over 200. The first pair of legs on each centipede is equipped with sharp forcipules or pincers used for both self-defense and for attacking prey - as they are carnivores. That prey generally includes other insects, including worms, flies, and snails. The pincers on a centipede contain venom that aids in capturing and consuming prey. The pests can bite humans as well, but the venom isn’t usually strong enough to cause an adverse reaction. However, a centipede bite can be very painful.
House Centipedes and Florida Blue Centipedes are the two most common types of these pests in the state, though other varieties exist. As their name suggests, Florida Blue Centipedes are blue-gray in color, although some can be orange as well. They can grow fairly long - some reaching 3 inches in length. These centipedes are particularly aggressive, especially if they feel threatened or surprised. A bite from a Florida Blue Centipede feels similar to a bee sting.
House Centipedes don’t grow as long, generally staying around 1 inch in body length. They often appeal much longer because their last pair of legs extends a few inches away from their bodies. House Centipedes are black and yellow and far less aggressive than Florida Blue Centipedes. If startled, they scurry away to hide vs. biting humans. While less painful, these pests often startle humans who come upon them unexpectedly.
While similar in appearance, millipedes - often called the thousand leg bug - differ from centipedes in a few ways. Body shape is one key difference, as millipedes have rounded bodies, while centipede bodies are flattened. A centipede has a set of legs for each body segment, while a millipede has two sets. Another difference is diet, as millipedes are not carnivores. They are scavengers and tend to feast on plant material - decaying if available. However, millipedes may choose to feast on live plants if decomposing ones aren’t readily available. When threatened or scared, millipedes react by coiling their body rather than running away or biting. In doing so, they secrete a toxic and smelly substance. If crushed, that substance may cause a reaction, specifically if it comes in direct contact with skin. That reaction is called a millipede burn and may present itself as blisters or the skin turning brown, sometimes accompanied by a burning or itching sensation. Very rarely, more serious reactions may occur, especially if the toxin reaches the eyes.
Unlike a lot of household pests in Florida, centipedes and millipedes don’t set up colonies inside. So, finding one occasionally doesn’t necessarily mean there is an infestation. In these instances, simply vacuuming up the pest or moving it outside is treatment enough. Avoid crushing the pests, especially millipedes with their toxic secretions. Most homeowners don’t want to deal with even one of these quick and sometimes startling bugs. There are some steps you can take to prevent the likelihood of finding them in your home.
With millipedes and their smaller length and centipedes with their flattened bodies, both types of pests can fit in small cracks or crevices. So, it’s important to promptly seal any noticeable cracks or gaps in your foundation, windows, or door frames. Dehumidifiers are a great option as well to keep humidity levels lower inside, because - like silverfish - House Centipedes love a humid environment. Keep damp organic matter away from the building’s foundation as well. Don’t allow leaves to pile up around your home’s perimeter, as these both attract these pests and offer them. On a similar note, these pests look for protection and places to hide, which is why they often go unnoticed. Limit clutter in the home, especially in areas with less traffic, like basements.
For those finding themselves with multiple centipede sightings, this might be a sign of an escalated issue, which requires treatment from a trusted team of pest control experts. Centipedes often feast on other household pests, like silverfish and cockroaches. So, proactively preventing those pests from inhabiting the home, in turn, prevents centipedes as well. Regular pest inspections and treatments from industry experts add a layer of protection against all household pests - centipedes included. Additionally, these inspections often identify existing issues going unnoticed by homeowners - giving them the ability to mitigate the situation before it has a chance to escalate. If you suspect an infestation or want to get ahead of potential issues, we encourage you to contact Knockout Pest Control today!
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