What do centipedes or house centipedes look like?

  • Color: yellowish to dark brown, often with dark markings; the house centipede which is grey-yellow with three stripes down the back and very long legs banded with white.
  • Size: 1/8- to 6-inches long (but most seen are 2 inches long)
  • Flattened body with 15-177 body segments which typically have one pair of legs each.
  • One pair of slender antennae.

What are the habits of house centipedes?

  • Centipedes typically overwinter outdoors.
  • During the summer, they lay 35 eggs or more in or on the soil.
  • Newly hatched centipedes have four pairs of legs; during subsequent molts, the number of legs progressively increases until the centipede becomes an adult.
  • Adults of many species live one year; some as long as five to six years.
  • Centipedes, including the house centipede, prefer to live in moist environments.
  • Most species are active at night and it is not uncommon to find house centipedes on walls or on the floor as a function of nocturnal foraging.
  • The first pair of legs has poison glands that are used to kill prey such as insects and spiders. 
  • The majority of their water needs are obtained from their prey.

What kind of damage occurs because of centipedes and are they dangerous?

  • Centipedes can sting humans with modified front legs if handled, but the stings are rare and seldom worse than a bee sting.
  • Unless provoked or handled, centipedes typically will move away from humans.
  • They are a nuisance and often distressing to homeowners due to their terrestrial appearance.

What should I Look for?

  • Look for centipedes indoors in damp basements, moist closets, or in bathrooms.
  • Also, look for centipedes outdoors under stones, decaying firewood, objects on the ground, piles of leaves, mulch, etc.

How do I control and kill centipedes?

  • On the exterior, centipede harborage areas, e.g., piles of trash, stones, boards, leaves, grass, and compost should be identified and removed.
  • Exclusions, or sealing of entry points into houses should be performed by caulking gaps around siding, windows, doors, pipes, wires, etc., where centipedes may enter.
  • Indoor harborage sites of house centipedes should be eliminated.
  • A vacuum can be used to remove exposed centipedes.
  • The use of glue boards or sticky traps are effective in lower level basement areas, mechanical spaces and other moisture-prone areas to capture some house centipedes.  
  • If treated directly, centipedes will die if contact insecticides are introduced. 

If you are wondering, “How can I get rid of centipedes fast?” call the entomologist trained pest professionals at Innotech Pest Management and schedule an appointment today!