Millipedes and Centipedes

About Millipedes and Centipedes

Millipedes and centipedes are similar pests. Though they may be unusually repulsive, they are not a major threat to people or animals.   A centipede can be easily distinguished from a millipede because it has fewer legs; specifically, one set for every segment of its body. Millipedes have two sets of legs for every segment, and when they move, their legs appear to be moving in a wave-like motion. A millipede’s legs are also shorter and, in general, a millipede cannot move very fast. A centipede, with its fewer legs, can travel considerably faster.  Some centipedes may live as long as six years!

Centipedes actually have the ability to bite, and are poisonous. The poison from their fangs, located behind the head, is used to kill insects, which are their primary food. To a human, a bite feels like that of a bee sting, and can be dangerous, especially if there is an allergic reaction in response to the bite. Children will be more sensitive to a centipede’s bite.

Millipedes are not poisonous and do not have fangs, but they can emit an obnoxious fluid to defend themselves. Some varieties can spray this fluid several inches. The fluid can cause irritation to the skin in some people and should be removed right away. Additionally, it may take some scrubbing to get rid of the odor.

How Centipedes and Millipedes Enter Your New Jersey or Pennsylvania Home

Centipedes (thousand leggers) are attracted to moisture.  You will typically find them in bathrooms, basements, crawlspaces or any moist, damp area of the home.  Installing a whole house dehumidifier can help if you have a high population of centipedes or millipedes.   The most likely time of year to see centipedes in your home is in the spring or fall.  They are beneficial because they eat other pests around a home like spiders and flies.