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Centipede & Millipede Identification In Florida

What Are Centipedes & Millipedes?

Black millipede

Centipedes are multi-legged pests that are distinguishable by their body segments that retain one set of legs each. They use their legs to move very quickly. By nature, centipedes prey on other insects, using their potent venom to subdue and consume other pests. Centipedes are generally solitary bugs, meaning that unless you see many centipedes, you might be dealing with an isolated incident rather than an infestation.

Centipedes have anywhere from 15 to 300 legs. The first pair of legs end in sharp claws that contain venom glands and are what they use to capture prey. They are usually larger than millipedes, but they are much less common to see in South Florida than millipedes. Centipedes have an elongated body that is flattened from top to bottom. They are yellowish-brown and have long antennae.

Millipedes are much like centipedes in the sense that they are long, multi-legged insects, but what sets them apart is their body segments. Unlike centipedes, millipedes have two sets of legs per body segment.

Millipedes differ, however, in the sense that they do not bite, and generally hide during the day. Despite their many legs, millipedes move very slowly compared to centipedes. The biggest and most interesting difference between these two insects is that millipedes travel or migrate together in large numbers. Therefore, if you see one millipede, chances are there are more.

Millipedes are smaller than centipedes. You will often find them curled up in your home or near your sliding glass doors. Millipedes are dark brown or black, and some species have orange or red markings. Their antennae are also much shorter than that of a centipede. When swept or vacuumed up, they may easily break apart and may sometimes have an odor.

Are Centipedes & Millipedes Dangerous?

Both centipedes and millipedes are mostly nuisance pests. They are annoying to find in our homes and can be difficult to keep out. While these worm-like creatures do not pose huge threats, it is best to avoid picking up or having direct contact with either species.

Centipedes will bite you. Their bites are quite painful (think bee sting), but in general, their venom is not strong enough to elicit a reaction in people.

Millipedes spray a “toxic” foul-smelling fluid as a means of defense. In some, the fluid causes an unpleasant skin reaction. We have never heard of millipedes biting anyone, and in the South Florida areas, we see many more millipedes than centipedes.

Why Do I Have A Millipede Problem?

Millipedes mostly live outside but do move into homes and other buildings seeking moisture. They often live in the soil and vegetation located around our foundation, which is why they so often find their way inside.

Millipedes prefer to live under decaying organic matter, so we recommend replacing mulch with rocks and regularly removing leaf debris. These actions will reduce the number of millipede harborage areas on your property.

They typically move indoors through spaces in the foundation or under doors, especially sliding glass doors.

Where Will I Find Centipedes & Millipedes?

Both centipedes and millipedes live outside in the soil, under things like mulch, leaves, woodpiles, trash cans, or landscaping ties. They also like to live under rotting logs, trees, and tree stumps. Inside homes, they can be found in utility rooms, laundry rooms, crawlspaces, and basements.

Most homeowners find millipedes curled up along baseboards in their home. Usually millipedes become dehydrated and die within homes within 24 hours of entry. If you find dead millipedes in your home or business, it should be safe to vacuum or sweep them up for removal.

How Do I Get Rid Of Centipedes & Millipedes?

Red millipede

If there is one thing that we have learned in our years of providing the West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Wellington, Lake Worth, Boca Raton, and all of the Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, and St. Lucie County areas with pest control services, it’s that millipedes and centipedes will find their way into your home if you don’t take preventative measures.

If you have an infestation of centipedes or millipedes in or around your South Florida home or business, we urge you to contact us today to schedule a free inspection. We provide free inspections to identify the source of the centipedes and millipedes and will provide you with our recommendations to keep them out of your home.

Our team will safely get rid of the centipede or millipede or infestation with our pest control services, and do whatever we can to ensure they stay away for good! 

How Can I Prevent Centipedes & Millipedes In The West Palm Beach Area?

  • Remove decaying organic matter such as leaf debris on your property to make the area less habitable to these pests.
  • Water your lawn in the morning. Watering in the afternoon or at night will cause water to sit on your property longer, which will make the area more hospitable to centipedes and millipedes.
  • Make sure gutters are clear of debris and directing rainwater away from your home’s foundation.
  • If possible, replace wood mulch with another material like a crushed rock that is less attractive to millipedes and centipedes.
  • Remove fallen trees, logs, and tree stumps from your yard.
  • Store trash cans and recycling bins up off of the ground.
  • Seal the cracks, gaps, and holes on the exterior of your home.
  • Place door sweeps on all exterior doors - especially sliding glass doors.
  • Inside, use dehumidifiers to lower humidity levels.
  • Try not to apply mulch too close to your foundation. Much like leaf litter, mulch is a prime habitat for centipedes and millipedes. We recommend keeping mulch at least a few inches away from the foundation of your home.
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