Poisonous Centipedes

Are House Centipedes Poisonous to Humans?

Centipedes are arthropods belonging to Class Chilopoda. They are predatory and venomous. Venom is produced by a gland at the base of the fangs and is administered by maxillipeds on the first body segment. Upon capturing prey, the poison gland is squeezed by the muscles surrounding it and ejects toxins through needle-like ducts. Despite this, the venom usually is not strong enough to be life threatening to people, and most centipede bites are typically more painful for humans than they are dangerous.

Centipedes possess maxillipeds, a modified pair of front legs that curve around the head and behind the mandibles. Maxillipeds enter a victim’s tissue and inject venom produced by a gland at their base. Small centipedes’ maxillipeds are too weak to penetrate human skin, and their bite typically yields only minor discomfort, similar to that caused by a bee sting.

Are Centipedes Dangerous to Humans?
Smaller variants of centipedes produce nothing more than a painful, localized reaction, not unlike a bee sting. Larger species, however, administer more venom through a bite and can produce more extreme pain. While centipede bites can be extremely painful, they are not generally fatal to humans. Pain from a centipede bite may last up to several days. However, an experiment conducted in the 1920s concluded that the pain most commonly subsides after a number of hours. There can be swelling around the bite, and some victims may experience nausea, sweating and the swelling of lymph nodes following an attack.

Centipedes should not be handled since they may bite. Small children and those with known allergies should be observed carefully after a centipede bite. If medical concerns occur, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.

Individuals with other insect allergies should observe their symptoms closely in the event of a centipede bite. Beyond the initial pain caused by an attack, possible side effects include severe swelling, chills, fever and weakness. In the event of a severe allergic reaction, emergency medical services should be contacted immediately.