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Centipede vs. Millipede: Which Is More Dangerous in Homes?

Whether you live in a house with a yard or not, you might encounter centipedes or millipedes. These two creatures are not to be confused with insects; millipedes and centipedes belong to the arthropod class.

They are tiny creatures with many legs, body segments, and an exoskeleton. Most people prefer not to encounter millipedes and centipedes because of their appearance. However, beyond this, they could harm your health, making them potentially dangerous around the home.

But which is more dangerous in homes: centipedes or millipedes? We answer this question in this article and shed light on centipede vs. millipedes.

Centipedes vs. Millipedes

Centipedes and millipedes often confuse those who cannot correctly identify them because they look similar. However, there are some stark differences between the two, which we discuss below.

centipede in kitchen

Centipedes are smooth, flat arthropods smaller than millipedes. They can be under one inch or up to seven inches long. Centipedes have as few as 15 legs to 177 limbs and only one pair of legs per body segment. They are found in areas with high moisture but can also survive in dry areas, including deserts.

You can find centipedes in basements, floor drains, cement blocks, crawl spaces, and gardens. You can also find centipedes in potted plants and beneath rotten logs or rocks. Because they feed on smaller insects, centipedes are considered carnivorous arthropods.

On the other hand, a millipede is a large and round arthropod that measures over 11 inches. Millipedes have segmented bodies, but the number of segments depends on the species — there are about 10,000 species. Their pair of legs range from 40 to 400, and some have up to 750 legs.

Millipedes feed on decaying vegetables and live in places with high moisture. So, if millipedes are trapped in your house, they will likely die unless they find a place with high moisture levels.

Are Centipedes and Millipedes Dangerous?


Millipedes are generally not dangerous, even if they get on your skin. However, if they feel threatened, they curve into a ball and emit a noxious odor.
While the odor does not pose any severe health complications, it might cause dermatitis if you do not wash it off immediately. Centipedes, on the other hand, are also not dangerous, although they are venomous.

They pose the greatest danger to the insects they eat. Typically, they sting to immobilize their prey before eating them. Generally, centipedes are not antagonistic toward humans if unprovoked. But if they feel provoked or endangered, they will bite.

Although the bite is painful, it is not deadly, and the size of the centipede determines how painful it will be. So, while centipedes use venom to kill insects and earthworms, they cannot use it to harm humans. However, if you get bitten by a centipede with histamine toxin, serotonin, and cardio-depressants, it could cause severe allergic reactions like bees and wasps.

These toxins may also cause cardiovascular and neurologic effects. Common symptoms experienced after a centipede containing any of these toxins bites are chills, fever, nausea, severe swelling at the bite site, itching, and swollen lymph nodes. In addition, you might experience heart palpitations in some cases.

This is why you should ensure your house is free of centipedes and not let millipedes roam free, either. If you have a severe reaction to centipede bites, clean the area with a topical antibiotic and keep it covered to avoid infection. Then, if your symptoms are severe, see a doctor.

Can Centipedes and Millipedes Damage Your House?

No. Unlike insects like termites, centipedes and millipedes cannot damage your house or other structures. This is primarily because they do not eat building materials. However, millipedes will destroy your garden if you have one because they feed on plants.

When centipedes enter your house, they are looking for somewhere wet to stay. If your bathroom is always wet, you might find centipedes there. However, it is best to completely prevent them from entering your home.

Take the following steps to keep centipedes and millipedes from invading your home:

  • Block cracks and crevices, focusing on places around your windows and doors. This tip also helps you keep off other types of pests.
  • Check the insulation for decay and replace it. This will keep centipedes and millipedes out and reduce your monthly HVAC bill.

Get Rid of Any Centipedes and Millipedes In Your Home

Seeing one centipede or millipede in your house is uncomfortable enough. But, having more of them is troubling and requires taking intentional steps to eliminate them. If centipedes, millipedes, or other household pests are invading your home, check out our different guides for getting rid of them!

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