Centipedes and Millipedes
Many people confuse centipedes and millipedes. This is probably because they see them in similar areas so they assume they are similar animals. Other than their habitat, centipedes and millipedes have just a few things in common – both centipedes and millipedes have multiple body segments and many legs. Otherwise, they are very different.
Centipedes and millipedes are common in areas that are damp or humid. However they are not attracted to this kind of environment for the same reasons.
The outer shell of the centipede's body is not as thick as the shell of a cockroach or a cricket. Centipedes tend to lose moisture and dehydrate very easily. Because of this, centipedes stay in damp, humid areas. Centipedes are predators of insects and spiders. They prey on the insects that they find in their habitat. Instead of the first pair of legs, centipedes have a pair of claws. The claws have venom glands that the centipedes use to paralyze the prey.
There are at least four orders of centipedes represented in the United States. They have long, flattened bodies. Centipedes have one pair of legs on each segment of the body. Adult house centipedes have very long legs. Members of the other groups have short legs.
In the western states, the giant tropical centipedes can reach 6″-8″ in length. In other parts of the country, a very large centipede might be 3″ long. Many full-grown centipedes are less than 2″ long.
Millipedes are dark-colored creatures. They have multi-segmented bodies. Underneath their body, the millipedes have two pair of legs per body segment. Full-grown millipedes can reach several inches in length. People often see millipedes curled up into a ball.
Millipedes live in damp areas and feed on anything they can find. They usually eat decaying plant material. They will also eat dead insects.
Their normal habitat is under the mulch and dead leaves in flowerbeds. Millipedes also live in the thatch at the base of turf grass in yards.
Controlling centipedes and millipedes begins with eliminating their hiding places. Put firewood up on a rack and move it away from the house. Use a rake to move mulch and leaves at least 12″ away from the foundation.
Make sure exterior doors close tightly and replace missing weather-stripping. Repair screens on crawl space vents. On homes with brick exteriors, try using small squares of plastic screen to keep these pests from entering through the weep holes.
An insecticide barrier can help prevent these pests from gathering around the foundation. The weather will break down the insecticide, so the barrier will have to be re-applied periodically. Many people get a pest control professional to make the insecticide applications.