What Are House Centipedes?
House centipedes are small insects belonging to the family Scutigeromorpha and the genus Scutigera. They are generally tan to brown or black in color with a yellowish-brown band around their middle.
These long-legged insects have very long antennae. Armed with long claws, these insects are capable of inflicting a pretty nasty bite to humans (although they normally refrain from doing so).
If your home is plagued by house centipedes, you might want to consider having an exterminator take care of them as they can be a major pest. If you want to do it yourself, this article will share some practical tips for how to get rid of centipedes in the house.
House centipedes measure between 1 and 1.5 inches in length and are fast-moving insects. They may appear to be fat, but that’s just because they’re long and skinny.
In terms of color, house centipedes can be tan, brown, or black in color with a yellowish-brown band around their middle.
These insects have an odd appearance with 15 pairs of long, slender legs that join onto the body. They have two pair of tubular antennae with many segments or segments that are different from each other.
Nature’s Exterminator: Or, Why You Shouldn’t Kill Centipedes
Some people absolutely hate these creatures. Their horror is often linked to the fact that they are venomous. Centipedes have venom, though not particularly strong, especially compared to other invertebrates like the honey bee or the scorpion.
But there are also some who find beauty in centipedes. This bug is considered an insect that brings good fortune to some. The Chinese particularly believe that centipedes can bring luck and prosperity.
Unless you’re pregnant, centipedes are not an issue. Even if you are, it is not likely to present a problem. The agony it will cause is also limited, and there is no fatality associated with centipede bite.
This bug feeds on small insects, and this is a good thing. They help control populations of pest bugs. If you see one, they usually appear during Summer and spring. You don’t see a lot of them, so don’t try squashing centipedes like you would with roaches.
The Real Problem
Before we get started, we must point out that house centipedes are generally harmless creatures (not that you should spend time thinking about all the creeps crawling around your house).
While they do bite humans occasionally and inject a mild toxin, it takes a lot of them (about 75!) to really make you sick.
But the main concern in the case of house centipedes is the possibility that they will bite your pet. Their venom is more potent than a bee sting, and it is enough to hurt your furry friend.
Another main concern is their appearance. They look freaky.
Still, if you find that the house centipede is causing you fewer problems than you had thought, remember that they are effective predators of gnats, roaches, and other household pests. Leave them to do their job.
Keep Centipedes Out of Your House by Reducing Moisture
Centipedes are generally most active at night, so you’ll often only see them if you’re strolling through your home at night with the lights off.
However, your light may not be enough to protect you from the spread of centipedes. Indoors, centipedes can thrive in hardwood floors, behind wall decorations, in the basement, and even in your bedroom closet.
Since they can easily find their way into your home, the first thing you should do is to reduce their traffic. Keep outdoor weeds and overgrown brush to a minimum. Strive for a clean and clutter-free home. Reduce humidity and air moisture inside the house.
To prevent centipedes from getting into your home, keep your window and door screens in good condition, and bring in dry materials after the rain.
Once you’ve reduced the centipedes’ ability to get into your home (and keep them from leaving), you’ll need to kill them when you find them.
When poisoning, make sure that you use a residual insecticide that can keep eliminating them long after it’s been put in place.
Keep up with plumbing problems.
Monitor your plumbing system, using a tool like iPlumb. You can use this to keep tabs on when your garbage disposals get clogged and need a good cleaning.
IPlumb will even alert you when you start using your water pipes too much, as sometimes a leak can go on for a long time without a person noticing it. This tool allows you to keep track of your plumbing, no matter where you are in the world.
The following video is a quick overview of how iPlumb works.
Check your property for standing water.
The most common reason for centipedes to be attracted to a home is the presence of standing water, such as an old pail, tin, or other container.
Remove the water, or replace it with something that the centipede will not want to inhabit. The centipedes will also not want to live near or on a compost pile, flower bed, or any other place where organic materials are present.
Keep your gutters in good condition.
The key here is to keep them clean. Clean the leaves and debris out of them while it is still wet. You do not want to do this when the leaves start to dry out because this can lead to an easy infestation of centipedes.
According to BugGuide, house centipedes come from the southern United States and are not natives in the northern part of the country. They can be found everywhere in the country, however, including homes, buildings, and greenhouses. It’s best to get rid of them before their population gets out of control.
Use a dehumidifier.
Centipedes prefer damp places. Keeping your living space well ventilated can reduce the dampness and discourage your centipede pest.
You should also use a dehumidifier when your home or apartment is overly humid.
One easy way to tell that your home is damp is if you see mold or mildew growing on your walls or other surfaces.
As anyone who has dealt with black mold can tell you, it creates an unhealthy living environment for everyone in the house. So a dehumidifier is a simple first step towards getting rid of a centipede.
On top of taking care of dampness, a dehumidifier will also do a great job of filtering the air in your home. If your centipede sneaks inside, the dehumidifier will help to sanitize the air and discourage it from sticking around. You may not even realize that you have an infestation until some time has gone by.
Of course, a dehumidifier is not the only thing you should do to get rid of a centipede, but its importance cannot be understated.
Measure the levels of moisture in your home.
If the level is too high, the centipede will appear.
Take steps to resolve it first, such as drilling a few holes in your bathroom walls to allow the moisture to escape.
Consider using pest control methods, including liquid pesticide and indoor insecticides to reduce the population.
Call a pest control service.
If you don’t want to risk the dangers associated with over-the-counter pesticides or if you just want to get rid of your centipede problem, then you should call a pest control company. They will be able to identify and remove the critter without you having to worry about possible health hazards.
Tips for the Future
It is always good to be prepared for any situation. This means having the right tools with you at all times. You’ll also want some basic first aid equipment nearby. I highly recommend the Red Cross First Aid App, but you can always purchase a small first aid kit to keep in your home.
This kit should include:
- A pair of scissors
- A roll of gauze and/or a few band-aids
- A thermometer
- Advil and/or Tylenol
Take note of any allergies you may have so you can carry that information with you as well. This is especially important if you have children. Be sure to include any over the counter medications you take or currently take.
If you like, you can customize your first aid kit based on your home situation. Maybe you have younger children, so you’ll want to include a roll of Tyle-Pac or a simple baby ice pack. Maybe you have a very large breed of dog and want to have a sling or collar for him/her if he gets injured.
Maybe you have children who are old enough to help, so you’ll want to include antiseptic wipes, a pair of kid friendly scissors, bottle caps, and a Thermoflask.