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Centipedes

General Facts

Centipedes move around on long, thin legs. The most common species in Canada have an average of 15 pairs of legs, while other, larger species can possess hundreds. As predators, centipedes ambush and then disable their prey by catching them in poisonous claws. Although they possess venom potent enough to paralyze and kill insects, the arthropods are not typically dangerous to humans.

Types of Centipedes in Canada

There are over 70 species of centipedes in Canada. Though most are of no consequence to humans, house centipedes remain the exception, as they commonly invade homes to escape cold weather. The arthropods are often confused with millipedes because both creatures have many legs. Individuals are able to differentiate between the two because centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment while millipedes have two pairs. Centipedes also have flattened bodies while millipedes have rounded bodies.

Appearance / Identification

picture of a centipede

Centipedes have a bristly appearance due to their many legs and long antennae. They are usually brown, grey, or tan in colour and range in size from 2.5 to 15 cm. Adult house centipedes typically possess 15 pairs of legs that allow them to move incredibly quickly.

Habitat

Drawn to areas by available food, centipedes tend to congregate where there are large populations of insects. They enjoy dark, damp places with plenty of small crevices and cracks, like basements, garages, and mulched gardens. Centipede infestations in homes may indicate the presence of underlying insect problems.

Diet

Centipedes prey on several insects that are commonly considered household pests, such as spiders, beetles, moth larvae, and ants. They like to eat soft-bodied insects and worms but will also prey on other centipedes.

Life Cycle

Females lay eggs in underground nests. When young centipedes hatch, they look like smaller versions of adults, though they have fewer legs. Immature centipedes grow additional body segments and legs as they age, going through several developmental molts before reaching adulthood.

Problems Caused by Centipedes

Centipedes are not typically hazardous to humans. They do not bite unless grabbed or accidentally stepped on, and their venom is not toxic enough to be dangerous. Since their presence can be unsettling or disturbing, centipedes are considered nuisances.

Infestation – Centipedes in the Home

As they do not typically leave lasting signs of infestation, damage buildings, or contaminate food, centipede infestations may go unnoticed for some time. The best way to determine if centipedes are present is to look for them at night when they’re most active. Homeowners might also find molted exoskeletons given a present infestation. Dark, secluded areas in basements, under cabinets, and collections of firewood are common places for centipedes to congregate.

Prevention

Preventing other insect pests from entering homes will also prevent centipedes from becoming problems. Practice regular sanitation and seal all potential entrances like exterior vents, holes where cables and wires enter homes, cracked pipes, cracks in walls, and loose-fitting doors and windows. Residents should also remove brush, firewood, and mulch that is too close to the house.

Control / Removal

Due to the persistent nature of centipedes and their ability to navigate through very small cracks, it usually becomes necessary to employ the services of professional pest control companies. The experts at Orkin Canada can eliminate troublesome centipedes from homes and take steps to prevent other pests from getting inside.

Learn more about common types of centipedes in Canada:

 

Centipede Venom
House Centipedes
How Many Legs Does a Centipede Have?
Millipedes vs. Centipedes