House Centipede Identification and Removal

By Kealia Reynolds

House centipedes are ugly, unsettling, and tough to catch. You’ll most likely encounter a house centipede in the spring as the weather gets warmer or in the fall when the bugs seek shelter from the cold.

House centipedes can reproduce rapidly in heated structures and quickly infest your home. We’ll help you identify these pests and offer natural and chemical solutions to get rid of them. Review our recommended pest control companies if you’d like to hire a professional. 

What is a house centipede?

A house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) is a yellowish-gray arthropod that has dark stripes down the length of its body. Typically 3–4 inches long, these bugs have 15 pairs of long legs and two long antennae that are used primarily for hunting. House centipedes’ legs help them move very fast, making it harder for prey to catch them, but easier for them to catch prey.

As active, nocturnal hunters, house centipedes seek out their prey and use their legs to either jump on or wrap around their food. Two of the house centipede’s legs, located near the head and mouth, have been modified to carry venom that paralyzes smaller insects during an attack. A house centipede is sometimes classified as a beneficial organism, as it feeds on spiders, bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and other household arthropods.

Where do house centipedes live?

Believed to have originated in the Mediterranean, house centipedes live in most parts of the United States. While most house centipedes live in warm, tropical, and humid climates, they can adapt and survive in almost anywhere.

Outdoors, house centipedes prefer to live in cool, damp places like under large rocks, piles of wood, or compost piles. Indoors, you’ll likely find them in basements, bathrooms, garages, or other wet places. Since their eyes are sensitive to light, they’ll likely find somewhere to hide during the day.

Where do house centipedes come from?

House centipedes will enter homes from the outdoors in search of food and warmth. They’ll enter through doors, cracks, and other openings in your walls or foundation. Since they’re small and narrow, they can fit through holes of almost any size.

Can house centipedes bite?

Bites by house centipedes are rare since they’re shy creatures. Their jaws are small, making it difficult to break through human skin. In the rare event of a bite, a small, red bump may appear, but no additional pain or itching is expected.

How to get rid of a house centipede infestation

Whether you prefer natural or chemical methods, here are some effective solutions that get rid of a house centipede infestation.

  • Reduce the centipede food source—Since house centipedes are most likely searching in your house for other bugs to feed on, there’s a good chance that you have another insect problem. Determine what other arthropods are living in your house by setting out sticky traps or bug monitors. These can be purchased through a pest control company or at a home improvement store.
  • Lower humidity levels—Buy a dehumidifier and reduce the humidity levels in your home. This will create a colder environment for a house centipede, forcing them to go elsewhere for warmth.
  • Use an insecticide—If you choose to use an insecticide, consider purchasing one formulated as either an emulsifiable concentrate or wettable powder, as these are most effective. We recommend using LambdaStar UltraCap. Apply the insecticide to sites where you suspect the centipedes to live, such as cracks and crevices in your walls. Because pesticides are poisonous, follow all directions carefully and keep them away from children and pets.
  • Call a pest management professional—A house centipede infestation may be hard to spot, especially since these creatures are nocturnal. Schedule an appointment with a pest control service to assess the issue and determine which method is best in getting rid of the infestation. Pest control providers like Terminix and Orkin specialize in getting rid of house centipede infestations.

House centipede prevention tips

The best deterrent for a house centipede is to make conditions less ideal for them. Here’s how you can prevent house centipedes from infesting your home.

  • Make sure there are no holes in door sweeps and that they fit snugly between the door and the ground.
  • Ensure screens have no holes. If they do, get them replaced as soon as possible.
  • Seal cracks in foundation with caulk.
  • Remove any outdoor debris, like piles of wood and leaves, to prevent the opportunity for house centipedes to seek shelter and warmth.

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