Just like millipedes, centipedes are arthropods that belong to the chilopoda class. There currently exists over 3,000 documented species of centipede, but experts believe that as many as 8,000 species exist within the world. Centipedes possess between 30 and 100 legs, depending on the species. In North America, the most common centipede is the house-centipede, which usually grows to be around an inch in length, but most other centipede species can be around six inches in length. It has been reported that only four centipede species reside in North America. The centipedes that can be found in North America include the house centipede, the bark centipede, the cryptopid centipede and the scolopendrid centipede.
Most people have spotted the notoriously ugly and scary-looking house centipede in their home. Although these centipedes may not be pleasant to look at, they are tremendously helpful when it comes to controlling other insects within a home. For example, house centipedes keep larger-sized bugs, like cockroaches, from establishing a presence within a home, as these centipedes are fierce predators that eat numerous insects every day. House centipedes are also well known for traveling across floors at super-fast speeds. While their speed makes them hard to catch, these centipedes will not hesitate to bite a human if they are handled. Scolopendrid centipedes are often found outdoors within leaf-litter. These centipedes do produce a toxic venom, but they will not bite unless they are mishandled. Bites from these centipedes are very painful, but not life-threatening. However, if the pain of a bite does not disappear within a day, medical attention is necessary. Bark centipedes dwell both indoors and outdoors, as they are known for sneaking into the basements through cracks in the foundation. These long centipedes are fast moving and they also produce venom that causes tremendous pain when humans sustain a bite from this species. Much like the scolopendrid centipede, handling the cryptopid centipede is not recommended, as they possess pincers and can deliver highly venomous and painful bites. These centipedes are often found indoors and they are known for biting the feet of barefooted people. Luckily, the many life-threatening centipedes that do exist are not native to North America.
Have you ever stepped on a centipede?