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Uninvited guests are never welcome in a home, but the more interesting they look, the more frightening they seem to be when we come across them unexpectedly. If you jump when you see a cockroach, you may find yourself playing an unintentional game of “The Floor Is Lava” when you stumble upon a centipede or a millipede. Let’s discuss centipedes and millipedes, whether or not they can hurt you, why they are in your home, and how to get rid of them.

What Are Centipedes and Millipedes?

Unlike insects, which are defined by three discernible body parts and three pairs of legs, centipedes and millipedes are arthropods. Their bodies have many segments, a tough exoskeleton, many pairs of legs, and no backbone. They’re actually more akin to a lobster than an ant. 

There are two types of centipedes, and while legend tells us that they have 100 legs, they typically only have 30 or so. House centipedes, appropriately named since these are the ones we most likely find in our homes, have long legs and antennae. Garden centipedes are darker brown and have shorter legs. They prefer damp locations, overwinter in seclusion, and lay eggs in moist soil during spring and summer.

Millipedes are more round than centipedes, and they look more like a worm with legs. They have 4 legs for each body segment, and while they have many more legs than centipedes, they don’t have nearly the 1,000 that legend would lead you to believe. Spending much of their lives underground, this is where they overwinter and lay eggs. Known to mobilize in large migrations after heavy rain in late summer or early fall, this is when they’re most likely to find their way inside in large numbers. 

Can Centipedes or Millipedes Hurt Me?

Both centipedes and millipedes can cause physical discomfort in different ways. Millipedes don’t produce venom, nor do they have an injection method. They do, however, create a defensive fluid they can spray that can be irritable to both skin and eyes. For these reasons, handling them isn’t advised. Centipedes do produce venom, and occasionally do bite humans. The irritation is similar to that of a bee sting. While not typically any more serious than that, care should be taken if you have sensitivity to other other types of pest stings. 

The ability for centipedes and millipedes to sting or bite is directly related to their feeding habit. Millipedes feed on decaying organic matter like leaves, fallen logs, and roots. They don’t have venom because they don’t need it. Centipedes catch insects and envenomate them, hence their requirement. Neither centipedes nor millipedes can cause damage to your home’s structure, nor can they reproduce inside, with the exception of the house centipede.

Why Are Centipedes and Millipedes in My House? 

Garden centipedes and millipedes don’t want to be in your home; they would prefer to be outside where their food sources are. If they are in your home, it is due to the perfect combination of environmental conditions pushing them around and some sort of vulnerability in your home. When pests get uncomfortable, they look for locations that can sustain them. 

Centipedes and millipedes are generally small, meaning they can take advantage of a crack in the foundation, a gap in the siding, a poorly sealed window sill, or an ill-fitted door jamb. They also require moisture to be sustained. Correcting these issues is not only important for resisting centipedes and millipedes, but also insects and spiders. 

How Do I Get Rid of Centipedes and Millipedes?

For small-scale infestations, simply vacuuming them is sufficient for removal. Handling them with bare hands isn’t advised for the reasons outlined above. For customers with quarterly pest control, Nature’s Turf pest professionals use pest control products capable of controlling centipedes and millipedes as well as a litany of other undesirables. If you need inside service for these or any other pests, you can make that request during your quarterly visits or have a separate service call. 

Important Takeaways:

  • Centipedes and millipedes are arthropods. While they have lots of legs, they don’t have the 100 or 1000 legs lore says they do, respectively. 
  • Both centipedes and millipedes can cause humans discomfort millipedes with an excretion they generally use to defend themselves, and centipedes with a venom generally used to capture prey. 
  • Millipedes feed on decaying organic matter like leaves, and centipedes feed on insects. Neither of them can cause structural damage to your home. 
  • The best defense is a good offense. Make sure your home is well-sealed, leaving no easy access points. Perimeter pest control is also a deterrent. 
  • If they find their way inside, your friendly Nature’s Pest Professional can help. 
  • Nature’s Turf offers many programs for your pest control and landscape needs. If you’d like more information, please give us a call at 770-461-4156 or email us at