Author: Jiayi Chen
Editors: Vincent Chang, He-Hanson Xuan
Artist: Doris Tan
Blurb: The presence of household centipedes is one that is familiar to us all; you have definitely seen, felt, or heard of one during the course of your life, but how much do you really know about them? Read more to find out about the specifics of Scutigera coleoptrata, and how you can deal with them.
Have you ever been scared by a centipede or, specifically, a household centipede with hair-like long legs around the entire body? Don’t worry, there is no need to panic: despite their reclusive appearances, household centipedes are beneficial.
Scutigera coleoptrata, or household centipedes, are arthropods with a pair of antennae and 15 pairs of legs that move at an incredible speed (1.3 feet/second speed compared to 0.1 feet of body length). It usually looks fuzzy due to its legs being almost as long as its body. Scutigera coleoptrata favor warm and humid habitats, causing them to be commonly found in the bathroom, basement, and kitchen during spring or autumn. These household centipedes are nocturnal, which means they are active at night. Their eyes are sensitive to light, so if you expose them to a flashlight, they might stop moving until you disturb them.
You can eliminate these poor creatures that freeze in the light, but it is not recommended to do so, because these household centipedes are not harmful to humans at all, except for some psychological impact. Their venom, which is only effective towards small insects like ants and termites, is only contained within their front legs. Household centipedes prey on pests in your house with their long, sensitive antenna. Once they find their prey, they jump and "hug" the prey with their long legs and sting it with their venomous legs. It is only in rare instances of direct contact that they could bite you, as humans are not part of its menu.
The life cycle of Scutigera coleoptrata is up to six years, and it takes approximately three years for one to reach maturity. When they hatch, they only have four pairs of legs, and they have to molt five times which gives them more pairs of legs each time. During the warmer seasons of the year, male centipedes start looking for receptive females and put their sperm in a silk pad for the female. After the female fertilizes her eggs with the sperm, they lay and cover their eggs in the soil. According to research, females laid from 35 to 151 eggs each time.
Household centipedes appear everywhere in Europe, Asia, and North America, but the way to get rid of them is simple: keep your house clean and dry. Due to the greater prevalence of prey in the outdoors, household centipedes will leave your house if it is clean enough. They also dislike dry environments, and like everything else, they cannot get inside your house if the external walls are completely unblemished.
Thus, if you see a household centipede, don’t kill it, because it probably means there are other pests in your household. But if you personally cannot handle their presence, at least safely move them outside with a cup (catch) and paper (seal).
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