If you are in Cleveland, OH, you are likely to come across a centipede. These are rather intimidating creatures, to say the least! Occasionally we will overturn a rock or something, to see one scatter away quickly. Since centipedes (word meaning “hundred foot”) have so many legs, they are not an insect. You will see anywhere from 10 to over 100 legs on them. They are generally categorized as an arthropod, in the class Chilopoda. In Latin, the name Chilopoda means “fang foot”. Below the antenna, the front set of legs are modified into lethal weapons. These forcipules are connected to poison glands. Small creatures feel the wrath of these pokers before being eaten. It is important to note that even the largest centipede would have to work hard to break our skin with their fangs. If you end up getting stung, it is usually compared to a wasp sting.
Keep in mind that these suckers do not have the normal cuticle over their exoskeletons. Usually in arthropods there is a protective layer that regulates moisture. As a result, you will only find them in moist locations. There are a few different kinds of centipedes found in Ohio. Let’s concentrate on the house centipede. Scutigera coleoptrata is capable of carrying out its entire 3 year life cycle indoors. Whereas other species that you find indoors are limited to just a few random individuals
House centipedes have a worm-like body. 30 legs pair with a set of really long antennae. In fact, their hind legs act kind of like rear antennae. The last pair of legs on the female are more than twice the length of their body! These legs are modified to “lasso” and hold their prey. Their body is grayish yellow, with 3 dark stripes. Additionally their legs have alternating dark and light bands across them. When they get stuck, their legs easily become detached. This species is from Mexico. Yet you can find them both indoors and out in Cleveland, OH. Common times to find them inside are after a spring warm up, or in fall. Your bathroom, closets, and the basement are going to be their favorite spots. There they will hunt down insects and spiders.
Controlling House Centipedes
Although very intimidating in appearance, these creatures are beneficial. When its dark out they run around collecting spiders and insects from your home. So you can see, one of the best ways to get rid of them is to get rid of their food. House centipedes mainly feed on spiders and cockroaches.
Since centipedes are so reliant on moisture, this is key in controlling them. So use a dehumidifier indoors. And make sure your bathroom fan is strong enough to pull out shower mist. Outside focus on eliminating harborage sites. This primarily includes leaf litter accumulations. Seal any gaps leading indoors. Much like cockroaches, they hide inside crevices. By caulking any gaps shut, they will be hard pressed to find suitable living conditions. Sump pumps give centipedes a nice spot to live. By screening them you can keep populations down and out. Glue traps can help collect them and pinpoint areas of activity.
Beyond all of that, the use of sprays have some level of benefit. Spraying around basements can keep them at bay. Since they hide in cracks and crevices, dusts should be applied to these areas. Silica based dusts and diatomaceous earth products are especially effective. Exterior perimeter treatments should not only be sprayed as a barrier along the foundation. Be sure to treat around windows and beneath siding too.