HOW TO GET RID OF BEDBUGS
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Centipedes and Millipedes
Centipedes or "hundred-leggers," are elongated, flattened animals, bearing one pair of legs per body segment. The actual total number of legs in most species is closer to 30 than to 100. Adult centipedes are usually brownish and over 1 inch in length. The house centipede, a species that commonly invades buildings, has long legs that enable it to run rapidly. Unlike millipedes, centipedes never coil up when disturbed.
Habitat and Importance
House centipedes are actually beneficial--they capture flies,
cockroaches, and other small household pests. They never damage plants
or household items.
When provoked, a few large kinds of centipedes can inflict a painful bite that may cause localized swelling, discoloration, and numbness.
Though house centipedes are found both indoors and outdoors it is the occasional one on the bathroom or bedroom wall, or the one accidentally trapped in the bathtub, sink, or lavatory that causes the most concern. However, these locations are not where they normally originate. Centipedes prefer to live in damp portions of basements, closets, bathrooms, unexcavated areas under the house and beneath the bark of firewood stored indoors. They do not come up through the drain pipes.
House centipedes feed on small insects, insect larvae, and on spiders. Thus they are beneficial, though most homeowners take a different point-of-view and consider them a nuisance. Technically, the house centipede could bite, but it is considered harmless to people.
House centipede control consists of drying up and cleaning, as much as possible, the areas that serve as habitat and food source for centipedes. Residual insecticides can be applied to usual hiding places such as crawl spaces, dark corners in basements, baseboard cracks and crevices, openings in concrete slabs, and so forth. Centipedes discovered outdoors should not be controlled.
Millipedes, or "thousand-leggers,"
are brownish, elongated, cylindrical to slightly flattened creatures,
with two (most common) or four pairs of tiny legs per body segment.
Millipedes don't really have a thousand legs; even the largest ones have
somewhat less than a hundred. When they walk, their legs move in an
undulating wavelike manner. Adult millipedes vary from 1/2 to 6 1/2
inches in length. When prodded or at rest, most millipedes curl up.
Click photo to enlarge
Millipedes may be confused with wireworms because of their similar shapes. Wireworms, however, are click beetle larvae, have only three pairs of legs, and stay underneath the soil surface.
Millipedes normally live in and feed on rotting leaves and wood and other kinds of moist decaying plant matter. Generally, their role is a beneficial one in helping to break down dead plant matter. However, when they become numerous, they may damage sprouting seeds, seedlings, or strawberries and other ripening fruits in contact with the ground.
Sometimes individual millipedes wander from their moist living places into homes, but they usually die quickly because of the dry conditions and lack of food. Occasionally, large numbers of millipedes migrate, often uphill, as their food supply dwindles or their living places become either too wet or too dry. They may fall into swimming pools and drown.
When disturbed they do not bite, but some species exude a defensive liquid that can irritate skin or burn the eyes.
Adult millipedes overwinter in the soil. Eggs are laid in clutches beneath the soil surface. The young grow gradually in size, adding segments and legs as they mature. They mature in 2 to 5 years and continue to live for several years thereafter.
Millipedes seldom need to be controlled. Keep in mind that they do no damage indoors and pose no health hazard. Those that stray indoors can be swept out or picked up with a vacuum cleaner. Sealing cracks and other openings to the outside helps prevent them from entering. Usually invasions are over within a few days.
Eliminating moist hiding places around the home will kill or discourage millipedes. Outdoors, this includes removing rotting wood and decaying grass and leaves from around the house's foundation. This also eliminates millipede food sources. If there is excessive moisture in subfloor crawl spaces or basements, take measures to dry out these areas.
Application of insecticides is rarely justified for millipede control.
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