“I live in Spain and often find what I believe to be millipedes in my apartment,” starts this reader in her query. She has also found what she suspects is a centipede, and wonders if millipedes and centipedes can coexist, as well as if “Raid is the best thing” to use to “get rid of them.”
Our reader does not send in any photographs, but that does not really matter in this case seeing as she has already identified the organisms she is wondering about. In addition to the questions above, our reader asks if centipedes “also curl up and emit a smell as a defense”, which implies that the millipedes may have done this. She lastly adds that if we think there is an insecticide spray other than “Raid” that is better, then she would like our advice on the matter. There are a lot of questions to unpack here, and we will do our best to address each one concisely, but with a satisfactory degree of information.
Firstly, millipedes and centipedes can indeed coexist, just as they do in the forest (or other ecosystems). There really is no reason why they would not be able to. That said, centipedes are carnivores and do hunt other insects, and have even been prone to cannibalism when spotting weaker centipedes. So, with that in mind, it is also not out of the question that a centipede may kill and eat a millipede. Whether or not our reader considers this coexisting we do not know, but generally speaking, yes they can coexist in the same habitat.
Secondly, Raid is not the best thing to get rid of them, and neither is any form of insecticidal spray. Almost never do we recommend the use of such a spray to eliminate bugs, and this is for a multitude of reasons. Not only is it unethical to kill organisms which have no negative impact on human or animal health (millipedes are benefactors of the environment and centipedes are able to eliminate many pests in the household), but insecticidal sprays often do more harm than good. One has to keep in mind that the spray will not only get on the target, but also on the surface that the target is on. So, if our reader thinks about it, she would essentially be spraying poison all over her home, which she will touch, thus getting poison on her fingers, which will end up on her food, in her eyes and mouth, and on other people. It goes without saying that the ingestion of insecticides is not healthy. Besides, insecticidal spray has been known to be particularly ineffective against millipedes and centipedes: our reader has better luck just taking them outside. She even admits that there is no ongoing infestation, so this will be more than enough to deal with their intrusion. To prevent further invasions, our reader can ensure that her window screens are not torn in any places, and that any cracks in walling and flooring are sealed, though our reader said that she might have just brought the creatures in on a shoe, which is definitely possible.
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Thirdly, centipedes do not typically “curl up and emit a smell as a defense”, as this defense mechanism is specific to millipedes (at least between the two species). Centipedes will instead sting their attacker if they feel threatened, which can cause pain, itching and swelling, but is never lethal or otherwise damaging in the long term. Typically, the rule of thumb is that the bigger the centipede, the more the sting will hurt and cause other, more serious symptoms. For that reason, if and when our reader is handling the centipede to move it outside, we recommend that she puts on gloves and scoops the centipede into a box, or something it cannot immediately escape from (centipedes are very fast!).
In conclusion, centipedes and millipedes can indeed coexist (depending on how hungry the centipede is), our reader should not use an insecticide spray, and centipedes do not curl up and emit scents as millipedes do but instead resort to more aggressive means to defend themselves. We hope this article answered all of our reader’s questions to a satisfactory degree, and we wish our reader the best.