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What Are All These Centipede Legs For?

My youngest recently had a dramatic exit from the bathroom after being surprised by a house centipede. He wanted to know why this “spider” had so many legs. Mostly he wanted to know what it would take for dad to get that thing out of his life for good. I, of course, focused not on the first part of his emotional inquiry. What are all these legs for?

Why So Many Centipede Legs?

The number of legs will vary from 10 to over 100 depending on the species. Centipedes are part of the Myriapoda subphylum which is a group of many segmented animals. By having at least one pair of legs per segment, centipedes can have a propulsion limb for each segment. This is a handy feature for a predatory arthropod that wants to chase its prey:

  • under rocks
  • into tight cracks and crevices
  • around corners

The centipede can bend itself into a z shape and keep forward progress without hesitation.

Does It Have Antennae on Both Ends?

The house centipede has long, fine antennae coming off of its head. These antennae seem to be mirrored by the hind legs. This is especially true for those that relate to my 7 year old who does not wish to bask in the presence of the centipede taking in its beautiful corporal construction.

For those that do wish to take a closer look, you will notice the same striped color pattern on the hind legs as the rest of the legs that do not appear on the antennae. These extra long hind legs are used to capture – effectively lassoing – its prey so it can curl its body around and consume it.

All Legs But Little Bite

The house centipede may have way more legs than we want to observe or imagine scurrying through our houses and businesses, but its bite is not of major concern to humans. It has a bite that can inject poison into its prey. Fortunately for us, the poison is too weak to kill even the smallest of humans. Also, their jaws are pretty weak compared to our thick skin. It is a lot more work than a centipede wants to put in to penetrate human skin. These kinds of bites would likely only occur under duress such as defense when escape seemed impossible.

Decreasing the Number of Legs

Controlling centipedes has 4 major parts to consider:

  1. Reduce moisture
  2. Eliminate harborage
  3. Minimize the available food for them to follow into your home or business
  4. Apply direct control measures such as exclusion and barrier applications

If you relate at all to my son’s experience with house centipedes, you would rather wave bye-bye from afar and have someone trained in the world of pests do the removal and prevention for you. Fortunately for you, the Myriapoda experts at Rove Pest Control have the tools and knowledge to take this leg of your journey off your plate so you can focus on the next.