The centipede is a small animal whose size and coloration vary. It can reach up to 2.6 cm long. Its body is of rather light color, passing from beige to grayish yellow, often marked with three darker longitudinal stripes. The ventral part is whitish.
The animal has long tapered legs with alternating dark and light bands. Contrary to what its common name of house centipede suggests, the scutigera is a centipede and not a millipede. It has only one pair of legs per segment (see below the difference between centipedes and millipedes, in Frequently asked questions). This arthropod has in fact only 30 legs (15 pairs). Its hind legs are longer than its front legs. The last pair is the largest and reaches twice the length of the body in the female.
The head carries a pair of long filiform antennae composed of several small articles. One also finds two eyes composed of many juxtaposed ocelli (up to 600).
Like other chilopods, the scutigera is equipped with a pair of appendages modified into hooks which are called forcipules. Located under the body, they cover the mouth parts. The forcipules are not attached to the head but rather to the first segment that follows it. Each of them ends with a fang from which the venom flows and is used to paralyze the prey.
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How to get rid of centipedes at home?
Here are some steps to get rid of centipedes in your home:
- Sanitation: millipedes like humid environments. Try to reduce the humidity in your home by using dehumidifiers or improving ventilation.
- Clean up: Remove potential millipede hiding places such as dead leaves, rotting wood or compost piles near your home.
- Physical barrier: make sure millipedes can’t get into your home by sealing cracks and openings around foundations, windows and doors.
- Anti-millipede products: There are commercially available insecticide products that can help eliminate millipedes. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Pest control professional: If the infestation is significant, it may be necessary to call in a professional to treat the problem.
It is always important to remember that millipedes are generally harmless to humans and play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to break down organic matter.
How to scare away a centipede?
Scaring off a centipede (or millipede) is not always easy, but here are some tips that might help:
- Humidity Control: Centipedes are attracted to moisture, so try to reduce the humidity in your home. Use dehumidifiers, make sure your bathroom is well ventilated, and fix water leaks as soon as possible.
- Clean up: Eliminate possible hiding places for centipedes. This may involve tidying up woodpiles, cleaning up fallen leaves and general maintenance of your home and garden.
- Seal your home : Centipedes often enter homes through cracks or openings in walls, foundations or windows. Make sure these potential access points are properly sealed.
- Natural Insecticides: Certain essential oils such as lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus oil can help repel centipedes.
- Diatomaceous earth powder: This is a natural product that can be used to repel centipedes. It causes physical damage to centipedes, which causes them to avoid the treated areas.
These steps can help keep centipedes out of your home. However, keep in mind that these creatures are generally harmless and can help control other pests by eating them.
Why shouldn’t centipedes be killed?
It is not recommended to kill millipedes because they are beneficial to the ecosystem. These creatures are detritivores, which means that they consume decaying organic matter such as dead leaves or rotting wood. In doing so, they help decompose this material, enriching the soil with essential nutrients for plant growth. In addition, some species of millipedes are also predators of garden pests such as slugs, sowbugs and various insects. In short, millipedes play an important role in the cycle of life and the balance of our environment.
What attracts centipedes?
Millipedes are attracted to damp, dark environments where they can find plenty of food. They feed on decaying organic matter, such as dead leaves, rotting wood and sometimes other small insects. So, soil rich in organic matter, compost piles, stacked firewood, or areas of the house that are damp and dark (such as bathrooms, basements, or under furniture) can attract millipedes.
|Latin name||Scutigera coleoptrata|
|Length||2.5 cm on average|
|Color||brown to grey with 3 stripes on the back|
|Life||6 years old|
MORE INFORMATION ON CENTIPEDES AND MILLIPEDES
LIFE CYCLE OF CENTIPEDES
During reproduction, the male and female come into contact by touching each other with their antennas and moving in a circle. In the male, the spermatozoa are enclosed in a spermatophore, a small, thin-walled pouch containing a droplet of semen. The male deposits the spermatophore on the ground during his “nuptial dance” with the female. This one then places itself on the spermatophore and makes it penetrate in its genital tract, thus allowing the fertilization of the ovules.
The eggs are deposited individually on the ground (or in the ground in natural environment). Their number varies between 130 and 290 approximately, according to the size of the female.
At birth, the scutigers have only the beginnings of legs. The number of segments of these appendages increases gradually during a series of six moults. When the legs are well formed, the scutigera undergoes four more moults, which allows it to grow and reach sexual maturity.
In areas where the scutigers inhabit the wild, they overwinter as adults and lay their eggs in the summer.
In Quebec, the scutigère lives in homes, especially in warm and humid areas such as the basement and bathroom. It settles in between walls, on pipes, in cracks, ventilation ducts and damp cellars. The animal is often seen in the bath or sink, or near a drain. In warmer regions, this scutigère can live in the wild.
FEEDING OF CENTIPEDES
The scutigere is carnivorous. It hunts several small animals, especially insects and various arthropods. In homes, it feeds on flies, silverfish, cockroaches and sowbugs, among other things.
Considered as a useful predator, the scutigère participates in the elimination of insects. It is therefore advantageous to tolerate its presence and let it hunt in peace rather than kill it. This arthropod is rarely found in large numbers in a house. In addition, Scutigera coleoptrata does not transmit disease to humans or animals and does not cause any material damage.
However, these small animals with long legs can be frightening. If you can’t stand their company, try to capture them with a wide-mouth container and then remove them from the house.
Another tactic is to reduce excess humidity with a fan, an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.
The constant presence of scutigers indicates that insects or other arthropods are present in large enough numbers in the house to act as a food source. It is then necessary to identify the species present and try to eliminate them.
Scutigers often hide in cracks. If necessary, use silica gel or diatomaceous earth in areas identified as shelters. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying.
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