The Latin derived name centipede comprises of two parts –centi, which means a hundred, with pes meaning foot- which when combined make up “one hundred footed”. These are arthropods belonging to class chilopoda of the Myriapoda group that also includes millipedes and other multi-legged creatures. Centipedes are overwhelmingly carnivorous in their dietary choices and can eat other insects for food, even presumed predatory ones. In this article we will look at some facts about these dreadful animals and answer the question “Do centipedes bite?”
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Fun Facts about centipedes
The 100 foot tag
Unlike the majority belief, centipedes don’t necessarily have 100 legs. Depending on the particular sub-specie of centipede, its legs can count anything from a mere 15 to a whopping 171 legs! And unlike a millipede, centipedes have only one leg attached to each body segment. This is the main optically distinguishing factor between the two.
Unlike what most people believe, centipedes are not considered as insects. Because of their anthropodal categorization, centipedes are invertebrates with segmented body parts, an exo skeleton and jointed appendages
Centipedes can live for a surprisingly long time. Anything from two to five years is considered as its normal lifespan. While it grows into an adult, the centipede repeatedly molts to keep rejuvenating
Centipedes are among a special class of living creatures with the ability of regeneration. Whenever it loses any of its legs, the creature can effortlessly regenerate and replace the lost one. Its molting cycle is the ideal opportunity it uses for regenerating lost appendages
These creatures, despite their very many legs, are fast and can travel are up to 16 inches per second!
Centipedes are predators that are nocturnal by nature. The come out nightly to hunt insects, snails and even other centipedes they overpower. They are venomous to their prey, and this is why they usually wrap themselves around their victim to let the venom debilitate them before they consume the prey.
Centipedes largely depend on their antenna for direction and for detecting prey. They have very poor vision and some are even completely blind
Caring to their Young
Female centipedes are caring mothers that devote their times to their eggs till they hatch and ready to strike out on their own. The mother usually curls itself around its eggs in underground burrows till they hatch.
Love for Humidity
Centipedes are extremely sensitive to the lack of water in their environment. They hate dehydration and that is why most live in very moist quarters like the dump or in rotting trees. There are types that do reside in arid regions but they still are modified in their behavior and structure to minimize any risk of been dehydrated. Often they limit all secondary activities till the rain comes back again and the atmospheric humidity rises.
Types of centipedes
Centipedes are known one of the most diverse group of creatures on earth, having over 8000 sub-species dotted all around the world. They vary in their colors and sizes and reside in wide range of climatic conditions. Some of the well known centipede species include:
These are predominantly yellowish brown in color with a unique body shape. They usually have a minimum of 15 pairs of legs on them and feed on house insects such as moths, spiders, cockroaches and flies to mention a few. Through their feeding habits, they aid in controlling many house pests. They are mostly found in the dark and damp regions in a house, such as the under the tubs in bathroom.
This is one of the most easily identifiable to people, with its brownish color and silky body. It can grow more than two inches long and has about 15 pairs of legs attached to it. These are some of the most poorly sighted centipedes and it usually moves around and detects its prey using its specialized antennae.
These are among the mid range kinds of centipedes, they come with at least 27 pairs of legs for mobility and they are predominantly resident inside burrows. The usually find where plants can offer dampness with their roots and shade to keep the soil cool.
As the name clearly implies, they are the giants among this group of creatures. It is very common to see a giant centipede with body size of almost seven inches. They have 23 pairs of legs and come in various colors ranging from tan, to reddish brown to completely black ones.
Do Centipedes Bite People?
Centipedes are not an easy sight, even for the non-squeamish. We deride them and consider them inherently dirty. But there is another issue that worries us most about centipedes, and that is do they bite? And if so what harm can come to us when they bite us.
Well, yes, centipedes do bite, and they can bite real hard. It can send a searing pain through us but surprisingly that mostly where the trouble stops. Centipede venom is not life threatening for humans, their bite is mostly a defensive mechanism to avoid harmed by predators. But in severe cases centipede bite can actually cause some very visible symptoms and discomfort
House Centipede Bite
The reputation and dread of centipede bites are mostly credited to house centipedes, which are the closest to us in terms of habitat. House centipede bites can be very painful, and in some individuals the following symptoms can be observed:
- Depending on the size of the biting culprit, one may experience severe pain, redness and swelling of the bitten area.
- Skin necrosis.
- Some people become nauseous or even vomit.
- Serious itching develops on the bitten region.
- Mild tissue damage of the area.
Treating a House Centipede Bite
House centipede bite can be treated by washing the affected region with cold water. This makes the veins around the area to become constricted, disallowing the spread of the venom to other parts of the body. The bitten person can also use ice blocks or pain relievers to lessen the painful effect of the bite. For more serious symptoms, the bitten individual is advised to seek immediate medical attention
How to Control and Kill Centipedes
- Kill on site by squashing it
- Deny it of its sustenance by eliminating all household pests
- Keep your environments clean and dry
- Seal any identified entrance points
- Use centipede Killer sticky traps
- Deploy insecticides to get to very narrow places they hide that cannot be physically reached
- Use centipede replants to create a perimeter around your house to keep them away.