What Eats Centipedes and Millipedes?
Centipedes and millipedes are long, slender animals. They live outdoors in damp, humid environments. They hide under logs and landscape timbers. They also hide under woodpiles and flowerbed mulch.
When they invade homes, centipedes and millipedes prefer areas where they have access to moisture. Homeowners find them in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. Centipedes often hide in closets and cabinets. Millipedes also hide in potted plants where the soil is moist. Although these animals do not cause much damage, homeowners consider them to be pests.
Both centipedes and millipedes have multiple body segments. Centipedes have one pair of legs on each body segment. The legs seem to extend from the sides of the centipede's flat body. At the front of its body the centipede has a pair of claws that it uses to deliver a dose of venom.
There are several creatures that prey on centipedes. The most common predator of centipedes is a larger centipede. Scorpions, birds, shrews, and toads are also predators of centipedes. There have been reports of people eating centipedes, but people more commonly step on them or hit them with brooms.
Millipedes are also multi-segmented animals. They have fairly short legs that attach to the underside of the body. There are two pair of legs on each body segment. When the millipede walks, the legs seem to move in a wave-like motion.
Millipedes are scavengers. Most millipedes feed on plant material. Some millipedes eat living plants, but many of them eat decaying plant material. A few millipedes are meat-eaters. They feed on dead insects.
Some millipedes have glands on their sides that produce a powerful chemical. This fluid has an unpleasant odor that serves as a repellant. This fluid is so strong that it can cause blisters on human skin. Despite this, several different creatures are predators of millipedes.
Several small animals, including shrews eat millipedes. Around the world, millipedes are food for dormice, hedgehogs, and mongooses. Several types of birds, including herons and robins are predators of millipedes. Scorpions are predators of millipedes, and so are some ground beetles, some rove beetles, assassin bugs, and a few species of ants.
Homeowners do not have to depend on predators to eat centipedes and millipedes. Eliminating their hiding places and closing the entryways will keep them out of the home.
Move firewood away from the house. Trim ground cover away from the foundation. Rake mulch and dead leaves away from the foundation to keep these pests from nesting next to the house.
Check all exterior doors to be sure they will not admit centipedes or millipedes. Repair any damaged screens on crawl space vents and ground-level windows. Sticky traps inside the garage doors (one on each side of the door) will capture any of these creatures that squeeze past the door.
An insecticide barrier applied to the foundation will help prevent centipedes and millipedes from invading. Sun and rain break insecticide down quickly, so the barrier will have to be re-applied periodically. Many people prefer to have pest control professionals make these applications.