The Millipedes And Centipedes Of Hawaii
Hawaii is a tropical paradise filled with many exotic creatures. Some of these creatures look dangerous but are actually benign. Others look benign but are actually quite dangerous. And when creatures have similar features, like centipedes and millipedes, it can make it even harder to know what is dangerous and what is not.
While millipedes and centipedes are both in a subphylum of arthropoda called myriapoda, which is a classification for invertebrate animals that have segmented bodies, jointed limbs, and an exterior shell that molts, this is where the similarities end. These two creatures do not behave the same way, and they present different problems for home and business owners.
Which is more dangerous, the centipede or the millipede?
There is no competition. The two millipede species that make themselves household pests here in Hawaii, the cinnamon millipede and the garden millipede, do not bite humans. Centipedes do. And a bite from a scolopendra subspinipes could send you to the hospital.
What is scolopendra subspinipes?
This is a large, venomous centipede that goes by many names. It is known as a Vietnamese centipede, orange-legged jungle centipede, Chinese red head, Asian forest centipede, and more. The most descriptive and helpful name it has been given is simply: giant centipede. A bite from this centipede species can have a wide range of symptoms. Among them are intense localized pain, erythema, induration, and necrosis. But, with a modern medical infrastructure on the islands, bites from giant centipedes are not fatal.
This is the only medically important centipede in Hawaii. Other centipede species are considered nuisance pests. You can tell the giant centipede from other, non-poisonous centipedes, by its large size.
Are millipedes in Hawaii dangerous at all?
Millipedes are able to emit an obnoxious fluid that can cause skin irritation. Some are even able to spray this fluid several inches. This fluid can also stain carpets and other fabrics. It is a good idea to have millipedes removed if they are coming into your home.
Why do centipedes and millipedes come into human structures?
Centipedes are predatory insects that will enter homes in search of food. If you have bugs in your home, centipedes will find the hunting ground they're looking for. Millipedes are detritivores that feed mostly on decaying organic matter and small root systems. They enter homes during times of heavy rain, when the soil outside is oversaturated.
What do centipedes and millipedes look like?
You can tell the difference between a millipede and centipede by its legs. The legs on a centipede shoot out from its sides, and there is one pair of legs per body segment. A millipede has legs that shoot straight down and there are two sets of legs per body segment.
While the prefix milli means a thousand, millipedes do not have a thousand legs. They do, however, have a lot more legs than a centipede. The number varies depending on the species and age of the millipede being examined, but there is no competition when compared to a centipede.
When touched, a millipede will often tighten into a coiled shape to defend itself. A centipede will not. In fact, a centipede will either run, or take a defensive posture.
Because of its tiny size, the species of centipede that gets mistaken for a millipede most is the mecistocephalus maxillaris, though it shouldn't. This tiny centipede has distinctly centipede-like legs that come out of its sides, not its underside.
How do you keep centipedes and millipedes out?
These are incredibly mobile creatures that can scale walls and slip through tiny cracks (the giant centipede excluded). Millipedes can even walk across ceilings to get where they're going. The only way to completely protect a home from invasion is through ongoing pest control services.
If you have a centipede or millipede problem, reach out to Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions. Our Premier Pest Protection service offers year-round coverage for over 30 common household pests, including millipedes and centipedes.
You don't have to live with exotic bugs in Hawaii. With year-round pest service from Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions, you'll have the protection you need all year long.