Other New Mexico Pests
Centipedes: Facts, Identification & Control
Centipedes belong to the class of myriapods. Even though their name centipede means “100 legs,” centipedes may have anywhere from 15 to 191 pairs of legs. These legs always come in odd numbered pairs on a body that is elongated, with flat, segmented bodies that contain a pair of legs for all but one segment. The adult centipede is brown and measures over one inch in length.
Centipedes have a rounded or flattened head, bearing a pair of antennae at the forward margin. They have a pair of elongated mandibles, and two pairs of maxillae. The first pair of maxillae form the lower lip, and bear short palps. The first pair of limbs stretch forward from the body to cover the remainder of the mouth. These limbs, or maxillipeds, end in sharp claws and include venom glands that help the animal to kill or paralyse its prey.
Adult centipedes hide in moist, dark and secluded areas during winter. They place eggs in dampened soil during summer or spring. As centipedes become adults, they grow a complete set of legs and extra segments. However, some centipedes are born complete. Most centipedes live for up to six years, but their development requires two to three years.
Centipedes may enter houses and buildings, but they do not roam during daytime. They hide in damp areas around bathrooms, closets, basements and other sites typically infested by pests.
Diet: What Do Centipedes Eat?
Centipedes detect prey through the use of their antennae, which are covered with dense hairs. Their prey is immobilized by venom injected from the maxilliped fang and held in place by the maxillipeds. Prey is passed to the mouth via the first and second maxillae and is then broken down by the mandibles.
Most centipedes are carnivorous and prey upon soft-bodied insects, spiders, worms and other arthropods, including other centipedes. However, Geophilomorph centipedes will consume plants if they are unable to locate other sources of food and larger species of centipedes may seek out small animals.
More Centipede Facts
Centipedes are fast moving, agile, nocturnal animals. They are rarely seen by humans due to their nocturnal activity and the speed with which they move.
While some centipedes have compound eyes containing as many as 200 optical units, others do not have eyes. All centipedes have very poor eyesight and track their prey through the use of touch.
Provided that they are able to escape from predators and that their surroundings are conducive to survival, centipedes can live as long as six years. Among arthropods, this lifespan is considered long.
Centipedes are venomous. Their venom allows them to attack prey and defend themselves against predators and other natural enemies. 5-hydroxytryptamine has been found in most centipede venom and cytolisins, which can break down cell walls, is present in some centipede species found in North America. Centipede venom is not fatal to humans, although some individuals may be allergic to it and will experience more severe symptoms.
Centipedes in North America
Centipedes are found in a variety of North American environments, from harsh deserts to moist, deciduous forests. Centipedes in the United States are some of the largest of their kind.
The sizeable Scolopendra hero, also known as the North American centipede and the Sonoran Desert centipede, can be found in arid wastelands. These centipedes are found within the United States and Northern Mexico, where they thrive under rocks and logs. There are three distinct subspecies of these centipedes in United States. The body of the Arizona centipede, or Scolopendra hero arizonensis, is tan in color with bright orange antennae and a black head and tail. The blue-tailed centipede is yellow in color, with blue or purple coloring at the end of the tail. The Scolopendra hero castaneiceps, or redheaded centipede, is tan or brown in color, with yellow legs and a bright red head.
The Scolopocryptops sexspinosa, Scolopocryptops peregrinator, Scolopocryptops rubiginosa and Scolopocryptops gracilisis are found under rocks and logs in gardens and woods across the United States. The stone centipede, or Lithobius forficatus, is commonly found beneath rocks.
Centipede Control Methods
Because centipedes feed on insects and other arthropods, eliminating their food sources is a step toward controlling centipedes. For this reason, it’s ideal to identify all other pests inside houses and buildings before performing any pest control. Some experts suggest not treating centipedes directly, as their populations will die off or migrate if their prey disappears.
Although centipedes may help homeowners get rid of insects like cockroaches and houseflies, large species could produce bites that are as painful as bee stings. Some centipedes can run quickly when disturbed. When they are handled, centipedes may bite, causing severe pain, numbness, discoloration and inflammation.
For common house centipedes, setting sticky traps can be a way to accurately gauge centipede population levels. This activity will also help to identify potential routes of access within your home. If an infestation is confirmed, homeowners should try to reduce moisture and seal entry routes to the house or dwelling. Moisture in a building’s foundation can be a problem and lead to an infestation, as can water accumulated from the roof. Keep leaves, wood, compost and other organic material away from the sides of the home or building. Consult your local pest control professional.
Scorpions: Facts, Identification & Control
Scorpions have been around for a long time – over 420 million years-and may be the most feared of all animals that Mother Nature has produced. Scorpions are arthropods of the arachnid class. They are distant relatives of spiders, mites and ticks. But what makes scorpions stand out is that they can inject potent venom through their menacing tail. Scorpions are nocturnal feeders and survive on a diet of insects, spiders, centipedes and other scorpions by using their front claws (pedipalps) and stinger. It also possesses sensory hairs that are used for detecting the vibrations of a possible snack. In attack, these scorpions will grab their prey with their claws, and sting only if the victim shows signs of resistance.
In a human victim, a scorpion’s venom may cause symptoms like swelling at the site of the sting. However, some people experience numbness, and convulsions. In extreme cases, some people may experience difficulty in breathing. People who are allergic are most likely to die from a dangerous scorpion’s venom. Their chance of survival improves if they receive an injection of anti-venom in time to counteract the sting’s effects.
Presently, there are 1,200 known species of scorpions in the world – and all of these scorpions are dangerous to some degree. Among types of scorpions, the smaller species are often more venomous–larger scorpions compensate by appearing more formidable to potential predators.
One of the more infamous varieties of dangerous scorpions roaming the American southwest would be the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus). Deaths have been attributed to the venom of these dangerous creatures, but the numbers are uncertain.
The fat-tailed scorpion (Androctonus australis) is also one of the more notorious members of the deadly scorpion class. It is believed that this treacherous scorpion is responsible for numerous fatalities in North Africa and the Middle East where it is very common. It s also known to be quite aggressive and its poison can be especially deadly to the aged and to children, due to their weak defense systems and small bodies, respectively. This is one dangerous scorpion that people should really try to avoid.
Another dangerous member of the scorpion family is the aptly named Death Stalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus). It is native to both the northern and southern hemispheres of Africa and is commonly found in its deserts. Its venom has been proven to be potent.
Scorpion Control Methods
Because scorpions feed on insects and other arthropods, eliminating their food sources is a step toward controlling scorpions. For this reason, it’s ideal to identify all other pests inside houses and buildings before performing any pest control. Some experts suggest not treating scorpions directly, as their populations will die off or migrate if their prey disappears.
Although scorpions may help homeowners get rid of insects like cockroaches and houseflies, large species could produce bites that are as painful as bee stings. Some scorpions can run quickly when disturbed. When they are handled, scorpions may bite, causing severe pain, numbness, discoloration and inflammation.
For common house scorpions, setting sticky traps can be a way to accurately gauge scorpion population levels. This activity will also help to identify potential routes of access within your home. If an infestation is confirmed, homeowners should try to reduce moisture and seal entry routes to the house or dwelling. Moisture in a building’s foundation can be a problem and lead to an infestation, as can water accumulated from the roof. Keep leaves, wood, compost and other organic material away from the sides of the home or building. Consult your local pest control professional.