Are Centipedes Poisonous?

Centipedes are flattened arthropods with one pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, they can have a different number of legs, from 30 to 354. These pests can be found in a variety of environments. It is estimated that there are more than 8,000 species of centipedes worldwide. Usually, they have a drab coloration with shades of brown and red. Some species can be hazardous to humans since they bite.

It is not just scary to know that centipedes can be poisonous, they always look frightening due to the dozens of legs moving at the same time. A perfect description of the most common opinion about centipedes is the quote from a Tibetan poem from the 19th century: “If you enjoy frightening others, you will be reborn as a centipede.”

Types of Poisonous Centipedes

Centipedes are venomous and they should be avoided since they may bite. In households, the most likely encountered centipede species is the house centipede. House centipedes are of black and yellow to white coloring with 15 pairs of long legs, and are 25 to 28 mm long. Other dangerous species include the North American centipede, the Sonoran desert centipede, and the Cryptopid centipedes. These species are some of the largest and can cause extreme pain with their bite.

The Centipede Bite

Centipedes have maxillipeds, a pair of front legs that curve around the head. Maxillipeds enter a human’s tissue and inject venom, which is produced by a gland at their base. Smaller species of centipedes can cause temporary, localized pain with their bite, while larger species produce more venom and are usually more dangerous since they can cause extreme pain. The bite of a centipede is usually very painful, but it is rarely fatal. The fact that many centipedes bite should be on your mind if you spot one in your home, garden, or backyard.

The symptoms of a centipede bite are straightforward and the victim typically sees them soon after being bitten. The most usual symptoms include:

  •      Two puncture wounds
  •      Severe pain, usually in proportion to the size of the centipede
  •      Redness and localized swelling
  •      Local itching and burning

The pain can last from several hours to several days. These more serious symptoms occur when a person is bitten by a bigger centipede species:

  •      Headache
  •      Swollen lymph glands
  •      Dizziness and nausea
  •      Increasing blood pressure
  •      Local tissue damage

If bitten by a centipede, you should promptly wash the wound with soap and water to minimize the possibility of an infection. We recommend following up with medical care. 

Centipede Prevention

To avoid a centipede bite, you should practice proper centipede control and prevention. Centipedes feed on other insects, so it would be best to eliminate their food source. Seal all cracks and crevices to prevent insects from entering your home. When it comes to centipedes, reducing moisture in and around your home is another good preventative measure. Repairing any water leaks and keep piles of leaves, wood, and compost away from the sides of your home.

If you’re concerned about centipedes in your home, contact a pest control professional to perform a proper inspection and provide appropriate recommendations.

Proudly serving the greater Chicagoland area in Illinois and southeast Wisconsin, the professional exterminators at Aerex Pest Control understand the habits of centipedes and use that knowledge when developing a centipede control program that is best suited to your home and your particular problem.

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