Are Centipedes Poisonous?
The short answer is yes. All centipedes are poisonous. The effect on humans however varies greatly. Very small species of centipedes are unable to penetrate human skin and inject any venom, so could be considered harmless. Some species can deliver a dose of venom, the result being about the same as the result of a bee sting.
Some larger species can deliver still more venom. The good news is that centipede stings in general are not harmful to humans as far as the amount of venom involved is concerned, but the sting from a large centipede can be extremely painful in some instances, painful enough to send someone to a hospital for treatment, but such a sting is rarely life threatening.
When people ask the question, “Are centipedes poisonous?” it is usually with the thought in mind of them making someone gravelly ill or perhaps the poison being lethal. When humans have a very significant and potentially life-threatening reaction to a centipede sting, it’s usually due to an allergic reaction, the same as many experience an allergic reaction from a bee sting.
In any event, it’s not a good idea to physically handle a centipede as it will probably attempt to sting out of self defense given the chance.
Centipedes Don’t Bite – While reference is occasionally made to centipede bites, it is a bit of a misnomer as the centipede may bite to eat something, and as such would never bite a human. The sting actually comes from the front pair of legs on a centipede, called maxillipeds which are modified and contain venom. Rather than being bitten by a centipede, one is actually pinched by the centipede’s maxillipeds.
Treating A Centipede Sting – A centipede sting can of course badly frighten a smaller child, and a small child would also be more apt to have a serious reaction to the venom, but in most cases it would be the pain that would be so very frightening. When anyone is stung, whether the pain is severe or mild, the reaction following the incident should be closely monitored for a time in the event a severe reaction sets in. If alone, the proper course of action is to stay calm, and as soon as possible wash the area with soap and water, partially for the soothing effect and partially to prevent the occurrence of a secondary infection.
Applying heat will reduce the pain, but applying a cold compress or an ice pack will do the same, and is preferable in the event of swelling. When the initial pain begins to subside, the area where the sting occurred may experience itching. Try to avoid scratching the area but rather apply an itch medication such as hydro cortisone.
Centipede Vs Millipede – The question “are centipedes poisonous?” is sometimes asked when the critter involved is not a centipede at all, but a millipede. Millipedes, or at least some species of them, are venomous, but millipedes neither bite nor sting, rather excrete their venom through tiny pores. The venom is used primarily for defense, and not in a predatory sense but in some cases can significantly irritate human skin. Generally speaking however, millipedes are much less of a concern than are centipedes when it comes to a possibility of incurring pain.
In most instances, having a centipede, particularly a house centipede about would be beneficial, as centipedes dispatch a number of not so beneficial insects, and also will control the spider population. Most people however, cannot tolerate having even a single centipede in the house. If there is one of course, there are apt to be more, and in most instances steps will be taken to eradicate them, which is not terribly difficult. The larger species, such as the giant black centipede, if found in the house, or under the house, are best done away with before they can cause anyone pain.