When asked ‘Are Centipedes Poisonous?’, most people are alarmed to learn that all centipede species do harbour poison. However, their effect on humans can greatly vary. Tiny centipedes, for example, can’t penetrate human skin, making their venom negligible to us. Mild discomfort, similar to a bee sting, is usually the result when a larger species injects its venom.
Understanding the Centipede Venom
In terms of volume, even the largest centipede species produce venom that generally cause no harm. However, the sting can cause immense distress due to its sharp, piercing quality, often compared to a painful injection. Although extremely rare, in some cases, these stings may warrant a trip to the hospital. To avoid any form of physical discomfort or allergic reaction, it’s best to avoid handling these insects.
Centipedes Don’t Bite – They Sting!
It’s a common misconception that centipedes bite, but in truth, they sting using their front pair of legs known as maxillipeds. These legs have evolved into venomous appendages which they use to dispatch their prey, and for self-defence.
Responding to a Centipede Sting
If you ever face the brunt of a centipede sting, don’t panic! Take immediate action such as washing the affected area with soap and water to prevent secondary infections. Non-prescription treatments such as a cold compress or an ice pack can also help, especially in managing pain and swelling. Once the initial discomfort subsides, treat any associated itching with an over-the-counter cream like hydrocortisone.
Centipedes or Millipedes?
Are you asking ‘Are Centipedes Poisonous?’ or do you really mean millipedes? Remember, these are two different types of insects. Millipedes also produce venom but they excrete it through tiny pores and don’t sting or bite. Although the venom can irritate human skin, they are generally seen as less threatening.
Centipedes: Pests or Pest-Control?
The presence of centipedes, particularly in your home, might be beneficial as these insects devour many household pests, even keeping the spider population in check. However, most people struggle with the idea of sharing their home with them, thus calling for eradication measures, especially for larger species like the giant black centipede.
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