Are Centipedes and Millipedes Dangerous?

Centipedes and millipedes are found all over the world, and are common household pests. Both of these many-legged arthropods can be scary looking, but are they dangerous?

Are centipedes and millipedes dangerous to humans?

Centipedes and millipedes are similar-looking creatures, but they are actually very different species. Millipedes are harmless creatures that mainly eat decaying plant matter. They may also eat fungi, but are not usually predatory.

Centipedes, however, are fierce hunters that chase down and kill their prey with a venomous bite. They aren’t usually aggressive towards humans and other animals, but they may occasionally bite if they feel threatened.

Centipede bites can be excruciatingly painful, though they aren’t usually dangerous. However, the bites can become infected if not properly cared for, and allergic reactions to centipede bites can lead to severe reactions including:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Extreme
  • Itching
  • Chills
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Are centipedes and millipedes dangerous to pets?

If you want to avoid millipede and centipede bites, it’s best to avoid handling them. But do centipedes bite dogs too, and are centipedes poisonous to cats?


Taryn Elliott/

Cats and dogs typically react to centipede bites in the same way that humans do. The bites will be painful, but not particularly dangerous. The following signs may indicate that your pet has been bitten by a centipede:

  • A bump or hive at the site of the bite
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased licking of the affected area
  • Other signs of physical pain or discomfort
  • Lack of appetite or restlessness

You can treat centipede bites on your pet by using a damp washcloth to wipe the wound clean before applying an ice pack to soothe the skin. If your pet is sensitive to bug bites, or has allergies, they may have a more severe reaction that requires veterinary care. Smaller dogs and cats are more susceptible to complications from a centipede bite than larger dogs

Are house centipedes dangerous?

House centipedes are a species of centipedes that commonly invade houses. Like other centipedes, they are insectivorous and also produce venom.

However, they do not frequently bite people and, even if they do, their venomous claws (called forcipules) are usually too small to pierce the skin.

They are also not known to carry any diseases that are transmissible to humans or pets.

Can centipedes and millipedes damage your house?

Centipedes and millipedes will not damage your house or any of your other possessions. The occasional centipede in your house can even be beneficial, as they attack other, more problematic pests (such as cockroaches). If you are experiencing frequent or severe centipede or millipede infestations, this could be an indication that you have a moisture issue as these bugs are attracted to damp environments.


Millipedes and centipedes are usually harmless, but centipedes can deliver a painful bite when provoked. Centipede bites can affect humans or pets, and may cause intense pain. They are not usually dangerous, but can cause more severe reactions in people and animals with allergies.

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