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Centipede, Millipede &
Sowbug Removal

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Controlling Centipedes, Millipedes, and Sowbugs

Centipedes, millipedes, and sowbugs tend to startle people due to their segmented bodies and jointed quickly-moving legs. These bugs are some of the oldest land animals, dating back to the Silurian period; still, they are sometimes under-appreciated when found indoors. It is not uncommon in Colorado to experience an influx of these pests shortly after a rainstorm. In the late summer or early fall, centipedes, millipedes, and sowbugs can leave the soil outdoors and crawl into homes, occasionally in vast numbers, searching for sheltered areas.

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Invasion of Centipedes and Millipedes

Despite their appearance, centipedes and millipedes are classified as Myriapoda (“myriads of legs”), which means the number of legs they have can range from ten to 750. They have a single pair of antennae, eyes, and mouth. Their food of choice is decomposed material as well as termites, roaches, and moths. In Colorado, an influx of these critters usually materializes following a rainstorm.

The most common Myriapod in Colorado is the centipede (meaning a “hundred legs”). They have 15 pairs of long, jointed legs attached to the sides of each segment of their bodies. Centipedes are easily identifiable by their legs, which are long, thin, and move quickly. Coloring is light brown or greyish-yellow, occasionally appearing translucent. Insects, spiders, and other small bugs succumb to centipedes as prey. Centipedes are extremely quick, agile, and excellent hunters. Being nocturnal, they are typically seen running across ceilings or walls in an attempt to hide in a dark location.

Millipedes (meaning a “thousand legs”) are usually about 1” to 1.5” in length and, at a glance, look similar to a worm. Unlike centipedes, millipedes have more cylindrical bodies and more legs, sometimes up to 400. The number of legs is no advantage, however, as millipedes move slower than centipedes. The world’s largest millipede was documented in North Carolina in 2012 with 750 pairs of legs. They prefer to live underneath objects in damp locations, feeding on decaying organic material. As a defense mechanism, millipedes will tightly curl up to protect their breathing holes at each segment near their legs' base.

Sowbug Invaders

Sowbugs are not Myriapods; but are a type of land-dwelling crustacean related to lobsters, crayfish, and crabs. They resemble a tiny armadillo with their overlapping series of plates covering their backs. Sowbugs have fewer legs than both centipedes and millipedes, with only a meager seven pairs. Sowbugs are often confused with pillbugs as they are incredibly similar in appearance. They are both brownish-grey in color, reaching no more than .75” with an oval-shaped body. Despite their similarities, pillbugs can roll up into a ball when threatened; sowbugs cannot. Pillbugs have a smooth, rounded rear end, while sowbugs have distinct appendages protruding from their rear. Sowbugs and pillbugs feed on decaying plant material and are essential in the cycle of decomposition. They occasionally feed on seedlings, new roots, lower leaves, and fruits or vegetables. Other names for these species are roly-polies, potato-bugs, and woodlice.

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Penetrating Bugs

Centipedes, millipedes, and sowbugs may occasionally make their way inside buildings for two reasons: overwintering and excessive rainfall. Although they are only searching for a temporary reprieve, these creatures might seek more permanent shelter in your home or business. When their typical environment becomes flooded from torrential rain, they might be forced to seek refuge in other areas. Most infrastructure does not have an adequate amount of dampness to serve as permanent habitats, however. If you do notice more long-term issues, you most likely have a moisture problem.

Centipedes bite humans, but they are extremely reclusive and do not go out of their way to do so. Their bites can be painful, lead to swelling, and are no more uncomfortable than a bee sting. Centipede bites can parallel bee stings, so those who are allergic to bees should be wary of centipedes.

Managing Centipedes, Millipedes, and Sowbugs

Active steps for pest management is usually not necessary for these types of invaders. They typically do not nest or reproduce within buildings, so you might be able to tolerate a few until they disappear. However, there are some cases in which a more permanent action is required to prevent re-entry. Perimeter treatments around the foundation help to keep centipedes, millipedes, and sowbugs away. Spot treatments of potential indoor hiding areas are also sometimes recommended. Glue traps placed sporadically throughout the home can be useful as well.

Environmental modifications, including caulking, removing vegetation, and keeping mulch or soil dry, help deter these pests from entering your infrastructure. To minimize humidity indoors, place a dehumidifier in damp areas. Structural repairs might be necessary if dampening issues continue. Repeated centipede or millipede entry can sometimes indicate a high density of prey indoors, such as ants or spiders. Treating your building for those pests will remove a food source, making indoors much less attractive to them.

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What's That Noise? What's that noise?
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Scratching during the day may indicate the presence of a bat, but this is uncommon.

More common sources of scratching or clawing during the day is a squirrel or a yellowjacket hive in the drywall, if it is summer.

A scratching sound coming from the attic is a good indication of the presence of a bat. The scratching may be constant or intermittent and may occur at day or night, though with a bat, this scratching will usually be heard at night. This is the sounds of the claws on the bat's wings as it moves around.

It may also indicate the presence of mice, however. An inspection is necessary to more directly pinpoint the source of the sound.

Gnawing sounds during the day are almost always due to the presence of a rodent, such a mouse, squirrel, chipmunk, or sometimes a rat. Rodents are characterized by their large incisor teeth, which continually grow and must be worn down by constant gnawing. Rodents will gnaw on wires, insulation and anything else they can find in an attic. Many house fires due to electrical problems are caused by damaged wires due to squirrel gnawing.

If you are hearing gnawing or chewing sounds at night, it may indicate the presence of a raccoon. Usually this will be accompanied by other noises, such as heavy walking. If you do not hear this, it may be a flying squirrel or some other rodent.

A "rolling" sound is usually due to the presence of a red squirrel bringing in nuts or other debris and rolling it around up in the attic, as squirrels will use attics to hoard food. If you hear this sound during the day, it is certainly a red squirrel, since red squirrels are the only mammals that commonly get into attics that are active during the day (flying squirrels get into attics as well but they are nocturnal). The "rolling" sound associated with a squirrel is sometimes described as the sound of marbles rolling.

If it is not a squirrel, there's a possibility a rolling sound could be made by birds moving around in a tight space.

Rolling sounds at night can be caused by flying squirrels, which are nocturnal. It is made by the squirrel bringing nuts or other debris into the attic or wall.

Raccoons may also make a rolling sound, though this is less common.

Scampering or scurrying during the day is almost always attributable to a squirrel, as most other scurrying animals (such as mice) are nocturnal.

A scurrying or scampering sound at night is usually due to mice moving through the walls, ceiling, or along the floor.

Nocturnal flying squirrels may make this noise as well; peak periods of activity for flying squirrels are just before dawn and shortly after sunset. Their scurrying is light and fast.

Raccoons may also make this sort of noise, but with a raccoon it will be more of a "walking" sound, a bit heavier than a squirrel, and not as fast.

Heavy walking or crawling is a very unique sound that almost always indicates the presence of a raccoon, whether it occurs during the day or night.

Heavy walking or crawling is a very unique sound that almost always indicates the presence of a raccoon, whether it occurs during the day or night.

If you can clearly hear the sound of flapping during the day, it is definitely a bird.

If you hear flapping at night, it is either a trapped bird or a bat. Nuisance birds are generally not active at night, so if you hear flapping it may be a bird that has become trapped. The flapping of a bat's wings is very soft, almost like a dull whirring. If you hear a very faint, soft whirring, it may mean a bat is flying around nearby in the dark.

Crackling is a very particular noise that is generally made by a yellowjacket hive within the drywall of your home. yellowjackets will pick and gnaw on drywall and use the pieces to construct their hives. The sound of this gnawing is often described as a crackling; it sounds a lot like Rice Krispies popping. If you hear this, it means the yellowjackets are close to gnawing through the dry wall. It is not as common at night, but certainly can happen then as well if the hive is big enough.

Crackling is a very particular noise that is generally made by the presence of a yellowjacket hive within the drywall of your home. yellowjackets will pick and gnaw on drywall and use the pieces to construct their hives. The sound of this gnawing is often described as a crackling; it sounds a lot like Rice Krispies popping. If you hear this, it means the yellowjackets are close to gnawing through the dry wall.

A sound of chirping or chattering usually means there are baby animals present. What species depends on the season, but it is very common for baby squirrels, raccoons, or birds (especially chimney swifts) to make these noises. Please contact Creature Control for a more thorough diagnosis.

A sound of chirping or chattering usually means there are baby animals present. What species depends on the season, but it is very common for baby squirrels, raccoons, or birds (especially chimney swifts) to make these noises. Please contact Creature Control for a more thorough diagnosis.

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