Occasional Invaders

scorpionScorpion – Scorpions are most common in the southern states from coast to coast. Most of the scorpions that invade homes or other buildings are generally not dangerous. While they will sting if someone accidentally contacts them, their sting is seldom more painful than that of a wasp or honeybee. There is one deadly species in southern Arizona and adjacent areas of Texas, California, and New Mexico. This species is not found in Georgia or in the southeastern US. Scorpions are attracted to areas that provide shelter, moisture and their prey: mostly insects. Scorpions often enter homes in the spring and fall but there is no clear evidence to indicate why scorpions will invade homes at certain times of the year and not at others. Once inside the home, scorpions prefer hidden places with cover. Scorpions can readily enter buildings through cracks 1/8 inch wide. Around the home scorpions may be found in accumulations of lumber, bricks, brush and trash. Certain ornamental ground covers such as large stones, mulch and bark provide good harborage for scorpions and such areas adjacent to a home may enhance the movement of these pests into a home.

millipedesMillipede – Millipedes are long, slow-moving, worm like animals with many body segments. There are two pairs of legs on most body segments. They are often called thousand leggers. They should not be confused with centipedes that have one pair of legs on most body segments and are very fast runners. While centipedes have venomous jaws and eat small insects, millipedes mainly eat decaying vegetation and do not bite people or pets. Black and red species several inches in length are often seen and pose no danger or threat as a pest. The millipede that most often invades homes in large numbers is the garden millipede. Garden millipedes are gray to brown and 1/2 3/4 inch long. They mainly feed on dead plant material and occasionally, young plants. They are most active at night. Garden millipedes usually live outdoors in moist, protected areas such as under mulch and rocks.  Unfortunately, these millipedes sometimes migrate in huge numbers, especially after heavy rains in the spring. It is during mass migrations that they often enter homes. They climb walls easily and enter through any small opening. If crushed, millipedes can leave stains. Many millipedes have glands which produce fluids which are irritating and can cause allergic reactions. These fluids can be harmful to the eyes and produce a nauseating odor. It is important to wash hands thoroughly after touching a millipede.

earwigEarwigs – Earwigs are fearsome looking insects, known for the popular superstition that they will burrow in the ears of humans. While they can give you a little nip if you pick one up, they cannot burrow into people. They are generally considered harmless creatures living in mulch and organic debris on the ground. Occasionally when conditions are favorable, earwig populations can get quite large and they can become temporary pests in or around homes.They usually use their pinchers to protect themselves from predators, but in some cases, they may use them to catch prey.  Earwigs are active at night and often prefer to live under mulch, boards, rocks, woodpiles and other cool damp places. If they are living indoors, they are usually associated with plants that have been brought inside from outdoors. They may also be found around moisture problems around doors, windows and garages. Sometimes they nest under carpets that remain wet.

centipedeCentipedes – Like spiders, centipedes are hunters that use venomous jaws to catch and eat insects and other small animals. Unlike slow moving millipedes, centipedes are fast runners which enable them to catch their food. Sometime they are referred to as hundred-leggers. Most centipedes vary in length from one to several inches. The house centipede is commonly found indoors and has a hairier appearance than centipedes found outdoors. It is the only centipede species that can live and reproduce in homes. House centipedes are often found in areas where humidity is high including basements, storage areas, laundry rooms, garages and bathrooms. Similar to the outdoor centipedes, house centipedes come out of hiding at night to hunt for food. Bites of centipedes found in the United States are not toxic enough to be deadly to adults or children. In fact, the jaws of smaller centipedes are too weak to penetrate human skin. A centipede bite is comparable to a wasp sting. Although somewhat painful, the bites are generally harmless unless one is very allergic to venoms.