A yellow banded centipede crawling on the ground

How to Get Rid of Centipedes (2022)

By Sarah Horvath

With hundreds of legs and a quick gait, finding centipedes in your home can be terrifying. Contrary to popular belief, centipedes don’t only look creepy — they can also bite and scratch, causing injury to children and pets. Unfortunately, getting rid of centipedes can be a chore if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re dealing with an influx of centipedes in your home this season, be sure to read on to learn everything you need to know about:

  • What centipedes are and why they are dangerous
  • How you can get rid of centipedes using household tools
  • Signs that you might have a centipede infestation
  • Tips and tricks you can use to keep centipedes out of your home for good

We’ll also help you get in touch with a few reputable pest control service providers that can help you tackle particularly bad infestations.

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What are Centipedes?

House centipedes (scientifically referred to as “scutigera coleoptrata”) are insects that commonly invade homes and businesses, especially when moisture and food is available. You can identify a house centipede by looking for its multiple pairs of long legs and worm-like body. Depending on the species, a centipede might have as few as 15 pairs of legs or as many as 177 pairs. Most types of centipedes are brown or black in color, but many also have bright markings and spots on their bodies.

When threatened, centipedes have the ability to bite both humans and pets. However, most centipedes have only been known to bite when being directly handled, and smaller species don’t typically pose much of a threat to homeowners. Larger species have teeth and claw-like feelers that can break human skin. Some homeowners who have been bitten by a centipede describe the pain of a bite as sharp — similar to a bee sting. This makes it especially important to evict these creepy crawlers from your property if you have young children who don’t know that centipedes can hurt them.

Three Ways to Get Rid of Centipedes

While centipedes can be creepy to look at, there are plenty of effective DIY methods you can use to show them the door. Read on to learn more about a few different options you have when getting rid of centipedes.

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is a water-soluble compound made up of naturally occurring elements like oxygen, boron, and hydrogen. Boric acid is used for a wide variety of applications, including centipede control. To use boric acid to kill centipedes, sprinkle a bit of the white powder in areas where you believe centipedes are entering your home or gathering. Basements, crawl spaces, closets, and windowsills are all great places to begin applying boric acid.

While boric acid is not considered to be life-threatening for humans, it is still a harsh chemical that can damage your skin. Be sure to read the product’s recommended areas of use before you begin applying it, and make sure that you use gloves during application. Keep children and pets away from any areas where you use boric acid.

Run a Dehumidifier

Moisture is one of the biggest things that centipedes look for when deciding where to hunt and lay their eggs. You can clear centipedes out of your home by running a dehumidifier during the summer and spring. A dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the interior of your home when humidity is high, which makes your property a less appealing place for centipedes to live.

Try Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a unique type of soil that contains naturally occurring fossilized water plants. Diatomaceous earth (DE) acts as a natural pesticide and has been found to be effective at killing centipedes by cutting through their exoskeletons. While harmless to humans, the microfossils found in diatomaceous earth have very sharp edges that kill the bugs without the use of toxic chemicals. Unlike pesticides, centipedes and other insects are unable to build up a tolerance to this material, which means that you can use this method for years to come. If you’re looking for a 100% natural method to kill centipedes, DE might be the right choice for you.

You can find diatomaceous earth at most garden supply centers and home improvement stores. It looks similar in color and consistency to talcum powder. To use DE in your garden, you can sprinkle the powder directly on soil in areas where you usually see centipedes and other insects. Wear a mask during dry application to prevent the powder from entering your nose or mouth.

If you live in a windy area or you want to apply protection in very specific areas, know that you can also apply DE while wet. Use one cup of diatomaceous earth powder for every half gallon of water that you use, and mix the substance together in a spray bottle. Spray plants and soil with the mixture until they are wet but not dripping. If you prefer, you can also mix a thicker DE paste by including less water, which you can then apply using a paintbrush. 

How to Know You Have A Centipede Infestation

While centipedes are not usually dangerous to humans, they can still be annoying. If you’re seeing centipedes everywhere in your home, you might be wondering if you have an infestation to deal with. The following are some of the most common signs that your home might have a centipede problem.

  • Stray bodies and legs: Centipedes are best known for their multiple pairs of long legs. Over the course of a centipede’s life, it might become injured and lose one or more of its legs. If you’re noticing bodies of centipedes or multiple pairs of legs lying around your home, chances are that you might have more centipedes in your home than you think.
  • Other pests nearby: Centipedes are attracted to homes where they believe they will be able to find plenty of other pests to eat. If you have problems with other pests (like bed bugs, roaches, or silverfish) you might see centipedes coming in as well. Remember that if you have multiple types of pests in your home at once, it’s always better to let a professional pest control company take care of them. Never mix multiple insecticides or pesticides together in your home by yourself.
  • Cold weather: Weather can play a major role in the number of centipedes you see in your home. In the warmer months, centipedes will usually stay outside of your home if a food source isn’t available near your foundation. As the weather gets colder and the temperatures begin to drop, be extra vigilant about removing standing water and cracks from the exterior of your home. This is the time when centipedes will be actively looking for warm, safe places to overwinter and lay their eggs. 

How to Prevent Centipedes

After you take care of the centipedes in your home, it’s time to make sure that these arthropods can’t return next season…or next week. Use these tips to prevent centipedes from returning to your property after you’ve cleared out these uninvited guests.

  • Get rid of as much moisture as possible: Moisture and standing water both attract centipedes, so you should do as much as possible to remove wet areas from the exterior of your property. Take a look at your home’s foundation and search for spots where water tends to pool. If you have piles of mulch, leaf litter, tree bark, or grass clippings lying on your lawn, be sure to get rid of them before it rains to prevent a centipede-attracting pool from forming. You should also regularly take a look at your gutters to be sure that they’re depositing water well away from the foundation of your home.
  • Clear out hiding spots: Centipedes are active hunters, and they’re always looking for areas where prey may be hiding. You can reduce the number of centipedes in your yard by getting rid of areas where prey might be hiding. Dark areas like piles of leaves, firewood, debris, and garbage can attract the pests that centipedes feed on, causing them to lay eggs and make their homes near your property. Clearing out these areas and applying a perimeter pesticide can help keep centipedes away. If you store firewood on your property, be sure to keep it at least 30 feet away from your home to prevent infestations. 
  • Seal cracks in your foundation: After you’ve gotten rid of the standing water that might be attracting centipedes to your property, look for entry points that they might be using to get into your home. Centipedes can maneuver through even very small crevices, so create a plan to seal any cracks you find in the foundation with caulk. You should also take a look inside of your home for areas where centipedes tend to gather (like in crawl spaces or near exhaust fans) and see if there are any further cracks you can seal.
  • Keep your doors closed: Once you’re done sealing cracks both inside and outside of your home, you’ll want to take steps to be sure that you keep your doors and windows closed as often as possible. If you have cracks near the bottom of your door’s baseboards where centipedes might be able to squirm through and consider sealing them or investing in a door stopper that seals the bottom of the door.

If you’re seeing centipedes in your home year after year, you might also want to consider investing in a year-round pest control plan. Pest control companies like Terminix and Orkin offer continuous and preventive protection options alongside corrective treatments to keep your home pest-free even outside of centipede season. 

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Hiring a Pest Control Company

No matter what household pests you’re dealing with, you’re likely to find a wealth of online advice on how to get rid of them using tools and supplies you probably already have at home. Unfortunately, many homeowners each year find themselves at the mercy of particularly persistent pests. If this is the situation that you’re finding yourself in, don’t panic — there are plenty of professional pest control services operating throughout the country that can help eliminate every type of in-home nuisance.

When is the right time to hire a pest control company? Some of the benefits that come with hiring a pest control service for centipede control include the following.

  • Better results: Pest control services employ professionals who are specifically trained to locate even the most well-hidden insect hiding places. If you attempt to take care of your pest problem on your own, it’s possible that you could miss a crucial hiding spot and have another round of pests to deal with in a few days. This isn’t a concern with most pest control services, which offer money-back guarantees if pests return after your initial treatment.

Professional pest elimination companies also have access to higher-grade equipment and chemicals. These commercial-grade pesticides and insecticides require specialized application but provide you with more comprehensive results. If over-the-counter treatments for centipedes and millipedes aren’t working in your home, a professional pest control company might have advanced or stronger options that will do the trick. 

  • Save money: Many homeowners are surprised to learn just how affordable pest control services can be, especially when compared to the cost of repairing damage caused to a property. Depending on how big your home is and the type of pests on your property, you might pay $50 or less per month for continuous, year-round protection from everything from centipedes to cockroaches. If you need a single treatment, your service will be even more affordable.
  • Enhanced safety: Do centipedes bite? While centipedes do not usually pierce human skin when they bite like other insects, cleaning up a major infestation can still be dangerous. Centipedes and other insects produce debris and waste, especially when they are allowed to gather in large numbers. Pest professionals will come to your property with their own personal protective equipment to keep both themselves and your property safe when using chemicals to eradicate your centipede problem.

Not sure if you need to contact a professional pest control service? Don’t be afraid to contact your local service provider to get a free, no-obligation quote. In the next section, we’ll introduce you to a few of our favorite nationwide, reputable providers of centipede removal services. 

Best Pest Control Companies

While everyone wants to believe that they can solve every bug problem themselves, the truth is that some centipede infestations require professional assistance. Choosing the best possible exterminator for the specific pests on your property can help you see longer-lasting results — and ensure that pests don’t return to your home after your technician leaves. If you’re not seeing great results using our recommended home remedies, be sure to contact the following recommended pest control companies below for assistance getting your home back in livable condition.  

Terminix 

Though most homeowners associate powerhouse pest control service provider Terminix with serious infestations, they can also tackle mild or annoying centipede infestations. More than 50,000 homeowners call on Terminix each and every day to deal with regional pests, including wasps, termites, centipedes, and bed bugs. While you can schedule individual seasonal services for one-off centipede infestations, you can also book year-round protection for as little as $50 per month depending on your location.

Best Overall

  • Offers a Terminix Promise™† (visit site for additional details) and an extended work guarantee for those experiencing a commercial pest problem
  • Provides online chat services
  • Available in 47 states

our rating9.8

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Terminix operates 300 individual service locations across the country, and they’re able to provide comprehensive pest control in most parts of the United States. Terminix offers both single treatments and continuous year-round protection plans for both the outside and inside of your property. If you have multiple pests that you’re seeing in your yard throughout the year, you might want to consider one of the company’s all-inclusive plans. You can schedule your appointment entirely online, and a Terminix representative can be at your home to conduct your free inspection within 24 hours of your initial call.

Terminix’s team can be an excellent option if you highly value customer service from your pest control service provider. Terminix offers 24/7 customer support, which means that you can instantly connect with a representative without calculating time zones and availability. When a Terminix representative is on their way to your home, you’ll also receive a text message so you can be sure that you’re ready for their arrival. With flexible scheduling and affordable pricing options, Terminix works on both your schedule and your budget.

Orkin

Orkin has long been one of the most trusted names in pest control services, with more than 120 years in business and more than 400 locations around the globe. Orkin’s team members pride themselves on using the most up-to-date technology and chemicals available, providing you with safe and efficient relief from common pests like silverfish, roaches, termites, and of course, centipedes. Each member of Orkin’s team must undergo at least 160 hours of professional pest control training — so you can rest with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you’re receiving quality service every time.

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  • Several decades of pest control experience
  • Specializes in residential extermination
  • Top tier termite exterminator services

our rating9.6

Orkin Review

Orkin offers both targeted pest control for single pests (including centipedes) or as well as preventive treatments for some of the most common household pests in each area of the country. If you see centipedes in your home every year, getting ahead of the problem with a preventive treatment from Orkin can help you stay pest-free throughout the year. Before you pay, Orkin will even provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation to help you understand exactly what types of pests are invading your lawn — and how you can get back to the gorgeous grass and home you need.

Some homeowners find that a centipede infestation can appear seemingly overnight. Orkin is one of the only pest control service providers we’ve seen to offer emergency response options. If you have a sudden centipede infestation (or infestation of any other type of pest) Orkin can provide a technician at your home in 24 hours from the time that you call. This can be huge relief off of your shoulders if you’re moving into a new space and you weren’t anticipating that you’d be dealing with a swarm of pests upon arrival. Not sure if you need to call in the professionals quite yet? Orkin also offers a free, extensive pest research library online that you can use to learn more about the critters giving you trouble.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kills centipedes instantly?

If you need to get rid of centipedes instantly, you’ll need to rely on an insecticide. Look for spray insecticides that contain bifenthrin or cypermethrin, two chemicals that kill centipedes with a single spray. Try to use chemical insecticides as sparingly as possible to maintain the quality of air in your home and be sure to keep children and pets away from areas where insecticide has been sprayed.

What attracts centipedes in your house?

Centipedes are usually attracted to areas where they can hunt plenty of other insects. If you have areas in your home where ants, spiders, crickets, or silverfish congregate, chances are that centipedes won’t be far behind. Centipedes are also attracted to cool, damp places like bottoms of kitchen cabinets and basement spaces. Homes provide safe and protective environments for centipedes, so you’re likely to find these creepy crawlies in your drains during the summer and fall.

Does killing a centipede attract more?

It can. Some species of centipede and other insects have been known to be attracted to the fluids released when you squish a centipede. If you kill a centipede without squishing it (like by using a pesticide or a sprinkle of diatomaceous earth) and you leave the body in your home, other carnivorous insects will be attracted to the corpse of the centipede. If you decide to kill a centipede in your home, you can avoid attracting more by disposing of the body and by cleaning up any bodily fluids that are released by the insect.

Why do I suddenly have centipedes in my house?

You might suddenly have centipedes in your house if you’re entering the summer season. Centipedes require dark, damp areas to feel safe — which means that if you’re seeing a large number of centipedes in your home, chances are that an area of your house is producing excess humidity. If you have high humidity in your home during the summer and early fall, consider running a dehumidifier to deter house centipedes from hanging around.

Does vinegar keep centipedes away?

Damp places like the interior of your kitchen or bathroom drains are common places to find centipedes. You can use vinegar to keep centipedes away from your drains. Pour one half of a cup of white vinegar down the drain with centipedes in it, wait 30 minutes, and add another half cup of vinegar. 

House Method Rating & Methodology

Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information. 

We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically. 

  • Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score. 
  • State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability. 
  • Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
  • Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support. 
  • Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher. 

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