Are Centipedes Poisonous: 4 Key Points To Know

With innumerous creatures on this planet, we frequently come across different insects or animals which may appear cute, but think twice about touching them! Read on to find are centipedes poisonous for future reference.

Are Centipedes Poisonous: 4 Key Points

Centipede belongs to the class Chilopoda and comes from the arthropod group, typically elongated segmented creatures. But, are centipedes poisonous?

They have multiple legs and have one pair of legs along with their all-body segment. They are almost alike to other insects, but a tad more dangerous.

But are centipedes poisonous? Smaller species of centipedes are more poisonous as compared to the larger ones. Smaller centipedes cause extreme pain which falls in the category of localized pain. Centipede bites are poisonous since they inject venom1, during biting their prey.

In this article, we will cover all the aspects of centipede bites, house centipedes, centipedes’ poisonous effects, allergic reactions, and other related information.

Are Centipedes Poisonous?

When it comes to the question are centipedes poisonous, it is important to learn about their characteristics first. Since centipedes prefer to stay in a dark place, it is very difficult to identify them in dark conditions. Hence this makes centipedes more dangerous than other species of arthropods.

Most species of centipedes are poisonous and can cause a severe allergic reaction2. Their allergic reactions are very dangerous and can be severe in some cases.

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Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash

Centipede is majorly found in a wide geographical range and prefers living in moist habitats. Hence centipedes are common in moist and humid areas.

The bite of larger species of centipedes can even cause anaphylactic shock in people. They are generally found in tropical rainforests in leaf litter, inside logs, soil, under a stone and near dead wood.

The small centipedes are frightened by small children or human beings. Centipede bites are the same as bee stings.

Although centipede bites have allergic reactions if used properly they also have health advantages. Thus the centipede’s venom is used in many drugs and medications. 

1. Physical Appearance

House centipedes are mostly found in damp places, they have long legs, frightening appearance, round and flat health complications along with a pair of antennae in the first body segment.

Many species of centipedes, do not have eyes, and in those species, the first pair of legs work as sensory organs.

Centipede has a very unique body part, which no other species of arthropods have, known as Forcipules3. The main and major function of this body part is to inject more venom and hold onto prey.

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Photo by id23 on Unsplash

The prey will experience extremely painful around the bite which also affects the cardio depressant toxins4‘ severe reactions. The centipede bites in most cases require medical attention to reduce pain. They have at least fifteen segments of the body after their head.

They have very long bodies structure, and the front legs play a major role in balancing the body. The largest species of centipides is Scolopendra gigantea.

This very famous species is also known as the Amazonian giant centipede and prefer eating frogs, mice and birds.

2. Symtoms of Centipede Bites

These insects are very much similar to spiders, many centipede bites can cause life threats if not treated on time. The venom injected into the body through the bite by centipedes directly attacks the nervous system of the prey.

From the puncture marks of their bites, centipedes inject venom into the body. The area where the centipede bite becomes red and the prey will also develop swelling.

The main symptoms which occur after a centipede bite include:

  • Nausea

  • Extremely painful swelling

  • fever

  • itching

  • chills

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Heart palpitations

These symptoms are observed from several hours to several days. If the medication is not taken on time, then the prey may also observe anaphylaxes and the venom will spread throughout the whole body.

More venom in the body means more complications and the prey may also experience fertility.

3. First-Aid After a Centipede Bite

Centipedes first puncture your skin, with the help of forcipules, and then they inject venom through that punctured portion. Their venom contains many different types of toxins and chemicals which include histamine, cardio depressant toxins, serotonin and many more.

Because of cardio-depressant toxins, they show cardiovascular and neurological effects.

Centipede bites look similar to snake bites. If you are not sure which insects have bitten you then immediately consult the doctor. Also, there are various home remedies for centipede bites.

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Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash

  • Wash the affected area with hot water, so that the venom is diluted

  • Use pest control techniques to keep centipedes away from your place.

  • You can use hot packs for diluting the venom as heat also reduces the effect of the venom.

4. Treatment

Doctors refer that the centipede sites are wounds, so they treat them as a wound. The treatment includes:

  • To avoid infection, they first clean the affected area, with topical antibiotics.

  • They cover the wound to avoid infection, in the affected area.

  • In case of infection or skin damage, they will prescribe tetanus shoot.

  • The medications given to reduce pain, inflammation and allergic reactions are- anti-inflammatory drugs, anesthetics and anti-histamines



  • If the symptoms got severe in a few days, even after taking prescribed medications, then the doctor will go for corticosteroids.

  • These corticosteroids will help the patient to fight venom and recover soon.

Final Note: 

Centipede bites can cause many major complications including anaphylaxes and cardio-related issues. Centipedes bite is almost the same as the bee sting, but they are not the same, there is a very wide difference between them.

So be aware and identify whether the punctured mark is from a centipede or a bee sting, and take the necessary steps accordingly. We hope you know the answer to are centipedes poisonous by now! Stay safe and healthy!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a centipede found in a house harmful to humans?

Home centipedes that bite humans poison them via venom. Small insects are harmed by these substances, but humans are not at considerable risk. Remember, there are classifications in centipedes as well.

2. Are house centipedes poisonous?

House centipedes rarely attack people or animals unless pushed to do so in self-defence. The venom of house centipedes is also less poisonous than that of several other species of centipedes.

3. What to do after a centipede bite?

After the bite, washing the affected region with water and soap may help lessen symptoms. Apply ice packs to reduce tissue edema because the cold increases the pain threshold and hinders nerve conduction. If the discomfort persists, consult a doctor.

Also, remember to wear full clothes if going on a trek or in humid and dark environments which are known to feature centipedes. Stay safe and don’t panic, just visit a doctor immediately!

  1. Undheim, Eivind AB, Bryan G. Fry, and Glenn F. King. “Centipede venom: recent discoveries and current state of knowledge.” Toxins 7.3 (2015): 679-704. ↩︎
  2. Washio, Ken, et al. “Anaphylaxis caused by a centipede bite: A “true” type-I allergic reaction.” Allergology International 67.3 (2018): 419-420. ↩︎
  3. Dugon, Michel M., et al. “Development of the venom ducts in the centipede Scolopendra: an example of recapitulation.” Evolution & development 14.6 (2012): 515-521. ↩︎
  4. Thanacoody, HK Ruben, and W. Stephen Waring. “Toxins that affect the cardiovascular system.” Clinical medicine 8.1 (2008): 92. ↩︎
  5. Church, Martin K., and Diana S. Church. “Pharmacology of antihistamines.” Indian journal of dermatology 58.3 (2013): 219-224. ↩︎

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