Scientific Name: Various
Color: Yellowish to dark brown
Legs: 15-177 pairs, 1 pair per segment
Shape: Body elongated, flattened and wormlike
Size: 1/8-6" long
Centipedes are sometimes called "hundred leggers" because
of their many pairs of legs. Even though centipedes are predaceous
and therefore beneficial, most homeowners consider them a nuisance
pest. Some species inflict a painful bite, but it is not lethal.
They are widely distributed throughout the United States and the
Centipedes spend the winter as adults in protected habitats and
become active in the spring. During the warmer months, females lay
eggs in soil and cover them with a sticky substance, although some
species give birth to living young. Some centipedes are known to
have lived up to 6 years.
Centipedes prefer to live in moist habitats and during the day stay
underneath rocks, logs and other objects in contact with the ground.
They are active at night. Centipedes feed on insects and spiders.
They kill by grasping prey with their powerful fangs and injecting
venom. The fangs are located on the body segment just behind the
Mainly they are nuisance pests, but have poison glands connected
to a pair of jaws and will bite if provoked. The bite is usually
not medically threatening except to small children and individuals
allergic to venoms. The larger species have more painful bites.
Controlling centipedes outdoors includes removing objects that provide
harborage such as trash piles, rocks, boards, leaf piles, compost
piles and similar materials. If centipedes occur in great numbers
or are creating problems, appropriately labeled sprays or dusts
may be used.
(Source: National Pest Management Association, et. al.)