What are Outdoor Centipedes?
Outdoor centipedes (different from house centipedes) are, as their name suggests, an outdoor pest. They can be found in damp places such as under leaves, in the bark of trees, in mulch, and under assorted yard and lawn debris. Outdoor centipedes vary greatly in appearance from house centipedes because their legs are not nearly as long. Occasionally, they do invade homes and become a problem.
Can you tell me a bit about their biology?
Centipedes are brown in color, flat-bodied, and have many body segments. One pair of legs is attached to each of these segments. This is different than millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per body segment and have rounded bodies instead of flat.
What’s their behavior like?
Centipedes mainly live outdoors, but wander indoors occasionally. When they wander indoors, they may be found anywhere at floor level. They thrive in damp conditions, so are more likely to be found in bathrooms and near or in sinks. Centipedes are not a threat to food supplies or household furnishings.
What do they like to eat?
For food, centipedes like to eat insects, spiders, and other arthropods. In this way, they are beneficial. The homeowner, however, would not be so likely to agree, as they are unsightly pests.
What if one bites me?
Centipedes can grow to lengths of anywhere from 1 to 6 inches and have the ability to run very rapidly. The larger centipedes may bite enough to penetrate skin, while the smaller ones aren’t a threat. In actuality, bites are not caused by jaws, but are a result of the pinching that occurs from the front legs of centipedes, which have evolved to look and function like jaws. The jaw-like legs also contain venom glands. If a bite occurs, swelling is the usual outcome. Antiseptic can be used on bite wounds and a physician should be consulted in cases where the skin is punctured.