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Centipedes and Millipedes

Provided courtesy Triton Pest Control

Centipedes are usually referred to as "thousand leggers". Truth be known it is the millipede that is actually the "thousand legger". In either case, these are outdoor pests that find there way into our homes and businesses. They take refuge in areas where it is damp and moist.


Centipedes typically live outside in damp areas, under rocks, leaves, mulch and landsacpe timbers. The centipede is brownish with a flat and elongated body. They have a pair of legs attached to almost every body segment. The number of legs will depend upon the length and therefore body segments. Usually 1 to 6 inches, in the Southeast and Southwest may grow to 8 inches.

The house centipede is usually 1 to 1© inches long. They have 15 pairs of legs which makes them appear larger than they actually are. House centipedes are grayish-yellow in color with three dark brown stripes running down the back of their bodies.

Millipedes also like to live outdoors in damp areas. Millipedes are very slow moving and if you watch them carefully enough you can easily see them moving. This pest has a round brown body with 2 pairs of legs to each body segment and range from © to 1© inches long. Oh yes, they do crunch when stepped on.

Chances are you will find centipedes in bath rooms, damp closets and basements. They eat other insects and are quite beneficial. They enjoy spiders in their diet. Centipedes can sting and their sting is comparable to that of a wasp.

Originally from Mexico, centipedes are found throughout the U.S. The house centipede has weak jaws and have difficulty biting through human skin, unlike their brethren discussed above.

Millipedes, on the other hand, product a foul smelling odor through glands in their body. Their food of choice is decaying vegetation and you will find them in damp areas including roots and green leaves. This pest becomes most prevalent during the Fall. You may find them crawling exterior walls and basement/cellar walls by the hundreds. Because of their size they find easy access to structures through cracks and crevices and around window and door frames. It is thought that millipedes attack buildings in an effort to find a suitable living area to overwinter.

Sometimes, exterior lighting on light colored buildings may attract millipedes. We have seen cases locally where thousands have crossed roads or streets during the night only to be found scaling the walls of the building where the lights are attached.


There are non chemical measures you can take to control centipedes and millipedes. If you stack wood near the foundation move it to a location away from the building. Keep your lawn dethatched, mowed and trimmed. Remove clippings if necessary. If you water your lawn, do it in the morning, this will help the grass dry through the day.

Look for cracks and crevices in foundation walls. Seal them to eliminate entry.

Your PMP can apply a residual product in the cracks and crevices of suspected nesting areas, including damp floors in garages and basements, plus ceiling joists and accessible crawl spaces. Bathrooms and laundry areas are ideal for application to control these pests.

If you have a current infestation, check areas carefully for any additional harborage.

About the author:  Triton Pest Control offers pest control services to their local Pennsylvania customers, as well as online sales of Vector Fly Systems, rodent traps, and more at their website

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